Throughout the offseason the Cincinnati Reds were rumored to be discussing trades of nearly everyone on the roster. At various points during the winter the names of Luis Castillo, Eugenio Suárez, Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, and even Sonny Gray were rumors to be in trade talks. The Reds, who were seemingly trying to cut their payroll, didn’t trade any of those players. But even being in trade talks – rumored or otherwise – doesn’t always go well for the mentality of the players involved.
“It feels like going into the offseason my name just kind of gets floated around there over and over,” said Gray. “In ways when you feel comfortable and you feel like you’re making some progress and the teams going in a direction to win and be successful as a whole group, as a whole organization – it can definitely get frustrating at times. Probably went through some parts where you’re like ‘oh it’s ok, it’s not going to happen’ and then probably some frustration as well kind of saying ‘like why?’ and then you kind of go ‘well at least you’re wanted, at least people want you, at least teams want to trade for you’ – so it can be over the course of an offseason, waves of emotion, as much as I try to remove myself from it, just kind of try to take it out of your life and just try to continue to go through your offseason, go through your winter and be around your kids and be around your family, and just be a dad and be a husband. ”
“So it can get a little frustrating and it was frustrating at times,” continued Gray. “Like I said, it pissed me off a little bit – I’m not going to lie to you. But at the same time, I have no ill feelings towards anything, I completely understand. Like I said, it was nice to be wanted. And it’s nice to be here. I do love it here. I like the people that are here, I like kind of where we’re at. But it can get frustrating. Especially when you feel like you’re at a place where you feel like you’re starting to go in a direction – I know it was a different season and it was 60 games, but there was a lot of different waves of emotion, there was a lot of different things for everyone – not only for myself, for our team, for our country, it was just a lot to go through in a year. To feel wanted was – I don’t know. I feel different ways about it. Coming into here, I am excited to be here. Like I said, happy to be here now. And let that all go past us and move on and see what we can accomplish on the field.”
Sonny Gray on adjusting to the workload
Gray, speaking with the media today from Goodyear, also spoke about the 2021 season and how things are so uncertain after a truncated 2020 season when it comes to being prepared for a full season workload.
“As a starting pitcher that’s kind of the unknown for this year,” Gray said. “I don’t think anyone truly knows what to expect. You can try and get yourself ready, you can say ‘I want to go out there and throw 200 innings’ or I want to do this – but I don’t think anyone truly knows what to expect. I plan on coming through spring, and I’ve been throwing bullpens and coming into spring I feel just like I would feel coming into a lot of springs. I feel healthy, the ball has been coming out of my hand well. This is where maybe, you don’t throw a lot last year in the regular season, but when we were back home and in Tennessee, once spring training got cancelled, we took like three weeks off but then not knowing when we were going to come back or what we were going to do, we kind of got on a 5-day rotation and we were playing little games – I was with Curt (Casali) a lot. So we kind of were throwing every 5th/6th-ish day and we were throwing 3-innings, 3-innings, 3-innings – it’s nowhere near the same as the regular season would be, not even close – but I think that’s the real unknown”
“I think everyone will feel great in spring. Everyone will come out and feel great, but then when you hit that 60-70-80-100 game mark – Personally I don’t know, and that’s something we still need to talk and try to figure out some type of plan. Do you shorten it at the front to be able to continue through the back? Do you just come out guns blazing and just see what happens? What do you do? And I’m sure different organizations and everyone will have a different philosophy on that. I don’t know, I trust DJ (pitching coach Derek Johnson) as you guys know, so we’ll sit down and have some conversations about it and come up with a plan. But talking to ya’ll, I’d like to go out and be a starter and pitch like a starter and go. And I think it’s going to be a challenge on myself to take care of yourself in different ways to get through the thing – it’s going to be more challenging on your body. I’m going to have to come up with creative ways to keep the body in position to be successful through the course of the season, whatever that looks like. I think I’m ready for that challenge. Physically I’m fine. Mentally I think I’ll be there. I may kind of ease into this thing a little bit, figure out how everything’s going. I do know one thing, I’m very excited to get on the mound. That’s like my little happy place. I want to get outside and run around and just get a baseball in my hand.”
Sonny Gray on the offseason from the Reds
“I do think as an organization and as a front office and ownership position, I think they were put into a tough position with the way the pandemic hit,” Gray said. “If you look at the offseason of 2019 and you start to build and start to try to look for that push for 2020, 2021, 2022 that little window, and you can clearly see the organization to do that. And you sign these guys – Moose, Castllanos, Shogo, and then you trade for Trevor – so you can clearly see that we’re going to actually try to push our chips in, try to actually do this thing and you get hit with this pandemic right in the middle.”
“We put all of our chips in the basket, or not all of them, but you know you kind of make this push to try and win and then this 2020 happens,” continued Gray. “I don’t know the financial burdens the ownership groups take in on this – I’m not there, I don’t truly know – but you make this push to go in for 2020, and then your season gets stopped. It just kind of flips your world upside down. And then you kind of come back and it’s here, and you’re still uncertain of what’s going on. So I do think it’s a tough position, you make a heavy investment in players and then it just kind of gets shut down and you’re stuck and you’re sitting there and you’re like ‘what do we do?’ It was clear as day as an organization we were cutting back our payroll, cutting back our cost, cutting back our expenses – I don’t think it was only us, I think it was across the game. I think it’s clear as day that there are people that are cutting back all of their expenses and we were clearly one of those teams.”
“In ways it’s kind of like, ‘I would have liked to add this or added that’ or ‘We’re so close’ because like I said we started a little slow last year and then caught our groove and you can say it’s 60 games, you can say it’s this, but if anyone can remember the way that last month and a half went for us – we were winning series, we were winning pretty much every series – we made this push and we slowly got this feeling as a team, this feeling as an organization where we’re making this push up.”
“We got in some type of race, we hadn’t been in a race or postseason position in a while. So you get that feeling, as a player, let’s keep that feeling, let’s keep that momentum rolling through the offseason and come into spring with that same feeling of we’re close, we’re finishing strong, we’re there. The postseason – we didn’t win any of those games, but that’s fine – but we felt that feeling. It would be nice to kind of continue that momentum through the offseason, coming into spring.”
“But we just have to remember as a team, we have to remember those feelings that we had – how we came together as a group, as a team towards the end. We have to remember that, and I do think we have the guys here to be a winning team. We didn’t do a lot of major headline additions, and we lost some guys out of that group last year – and Trevor was so important to our team last year, as well as a bunch of guys we lost – but you still look as an offensive unit we still have some extremely established players who have been so productive, so successful throughout their professional careers.”
“We still have some guys in Luis, and myself, and Mahle, and Wade, and Lorenzen, and Amir, and getting Doolittle – just his presence – and guys we have on the pitching staff – we still have some guys that are incredibly talented who have been there, and won, and been a part of this thing. I don’t think in any way we should sit back and say ‘we’re not capable of winning’ because we didn’t make any major headlines, because we subtracted from our team because we still have a ton of guys on this team that are very talented players, that are very successful players that have very good big league careers with very good track records who have been through the ringer who knows what it takes. Especially on the offensive side of the ball, we still have a ton of talented players. I don’t think any way we can go into the spring with our heads down or our shoulders shrugged because we didn’t continue to do this thing – because we did, we just did it a year early. And now we’ve all been together, a lot of the group has been together for a while now for a full year and you only get stronger after going through that season last year.”