Sonny Gray, Cincinnati Reds pitcher

Cincinnati Reds: Sonny Gray expected to be ready for start of season

“I will be ready for the start of the season, definitely,” the right-hander said Thursday after throwing off the mound to a catcher.

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Gray felt stiffness in his right elbow on Feb. 18. There was a lot on his mind. The consensus was that it wasn’t serious enough to have an MRI. Gray started his throwing program with long toss on Monday and threw off the mound Thursday.

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“Today was the best day by far,” Gray said after the session. “I will have a day off and throw another one on Saturday and kind of go from there.”

Gray was on the disabled list twice in 2016 for the Oakland A’s. He missed two weeks with a right trapezium strain and was sideline six weeks with a right forearm strain.

“It was something I’ve dealt with in the past,” Gray said. “It wasn’t a crazy thing from the get go. It was one of those things we decided to stay on top of now rather than let something linger. It kind of sucks but it was better to take a tiny step back but in the end it was better for all parties involved. The ball is coming out of my hand well and everything feels good.”

The Reds will slot him in when he’s ready.

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“We don’t have a date for a game yet,” Bell said. “It is a great step. I talked to him and he’s feeling very positive.”

Gray, 29, was acquired from the New York Yankees for Shed Long last month and agreed to a $38 million, four-year contract with the Reds.

Gray was a good candidate to start on Opening Day. The Reds haven’t planned that far ahead.

“He is a little bit ahead of schedule,” Bell said. “We see this as the beginning phase of spring training. We want to use this time to our advantage. We can give them an extra day to recover or to work on some things. We don’t want to get locked in. I think it will it will become more clear in the next couple weeks.”

Gray has experience with Opening Days starts. He started for the Oakland Athletics against Cleveland in 2014 and allowed no runs in a no decision. He opened the 2015 season with a start against Texas, an 8-0 win. Gray has pitched 14 innings on Opening Day without allowing a run.

Food poisoning in 2016 prevented Gray from making a third straight Opening Day start.

Disco debuts: Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani made his first appearance this spring with a scoreless inning Wednesday in an 11-4 win over the White Sox.

“My body feels good. My arm feels good. I thought the ball was coming out of my hand really well,” DeSclafani said.

Bell got to see DeSclafani for the first time up close.

“We were commenting the whole time he was pitching how good he was,” Bell said.

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