By Romi Bean

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (CBS4) – “I know what I’m here for, I know what I was born to do. I’m going to get back to it and make the best of it.”

Jon Gray of the Colorado Rockies delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the Oakland Athletics at HoHoKam Stadium on March 1, 2019 in Mesa, Arizona. (credit: Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Jon Gray started the 2018 season on top of the world. For the second straight year, he was the Rockies Opening Day starting pitcher. But after a trying campaign that included a demotion to Triple-A Albuquerque and being left off the postseason roster, Gray finished the year feeling lost and worthless.

Jon Gray reacts after giving up a three-run home run at Globe Life Park last season. (credit: Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

“It was tough. Baseball is the one thing I had since I was a little kid that’s always been there for me and I’ve always been able to do it. It made me feel right in the world. When things weren’t going right, I didn’t feel like much of a person anymore,” Gray said.

After watching his club fall to the Brewers in the NLDS, Gray was angry. Angry that he’d let himself down. Angry that he’d let his teammates down.

“Anger can work against you and I’m trying to battle that. Then again it can be a motivator. It definitely put me in gear,” Gray said.

Jon Gray of the Colorado Rockies poses during MLB Photo Day on Feb. 20, 2019 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz. (credit: Justin Tafoya/Getty Images)

When the offseason finally arrived, Gray took all of his pent up fury and used it to transform himself.

“I really couldn’t just wait around after last season happened the way it did. I just wanted to get a jumpstart on it,” the 27-year old righty said. “One thing I wanted to do was gain weight and be healthy. I’m about 20 pounds heavier. That’s going well. Just need to learn how to maintain that.”

Gray finished last season at 209 pounds. He opened spring training at a hefty 230. His goal is to hit 235 and stay there.

“I had to learn how to eat a big breakfast this offseason. That’s one thing I couldn’t do during season. I couldn’t get up and eat right away so I was losing a meal right off the bat.”

Gray at Coors Field on Sept. 12, 2018. (credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

As he learns how to keep the weight on, Gray gets to enjoy more than just a hearty breakfast.

“There’s no not eating for me. It’s open season all the time on any kind of food, so it’s been kind of fun.”

A healthy mind makes for a healthy body — and vice versa. The mind-body connection is at the core of new and improved Jon Gray. The pitcher has rebuilt his confidence by building his muscles.

“I didn’t feel strong. I knew I wasn’t strong last year. I was weaker, I was smaller. When all that’s in the back of your head, it’s tough to be confident,” Gray said.

With a stronger body and a stronger mind, Gray believes he’s ready to reclaim his role as the Rockies ace.

“I expect myself to have the best year of my life. I’ve got too many motivators working for me right now to not have a good year. I’m more ready at this time of year than I ever have been before. I’m ready to hit the ground running.”

Romi Bean

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