Jon Gray’s return to the Rockies has a tentative plan. “This is the first time it feels realistic,” he said.

Jon Gray’s return to the Rockies has a tentative plan. “This is the first time it feels realistic,” he said.

Jon Gray was always too far from returning to the Rockies to count the days. It was always four or five more weeks, always beyond the horizon. But the reality of rejoining the Rockies rotation is finally settling in.

“This is the first time it feels realistic,” Gray said Thursday at Coors Field. “I feel ready.”

Gray, who broke his left foot on the mound in San Francisco in April, pitched four scoreless innings in a minor-league rehab start for the Single-A Lancaster (Calif.) Jethawks on Wednesday night. He struck out five batters, threw a fastball that touched 97 mph, and earned 36 strikes among his 55 pitches. Five batters reached base, on four hits and a walk.

“It was good to feel that speed again, the speed of a game,” Gray said. “It still feels a little weak. But I’m gaining the strength back quick.”

The 25-year-old on April 12 fielded a high chopper on the mound and threw to first against the Giants, but he landed wrong on on his left foot and suffered what the team called a stress fracture. He was put in a walking boot several weeks while on the DL.

And while he kept his arm in shape during his disabled list stint, Gray had to wait to work on moving around the field. On Wednesday, he fielded a comebacker or two, Gray said, but the nervousness of fielding his position on a bum foot was not out of his mind.

“I don’t think it was. But when I reacted to the ball hit to the right side, I didn’t try to stop myself,” he said. “I got over there and thought, ‘Wow, I didn’t even notice it.’ That’s a really good sign.”

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Gray will next start for Triple-A Albuquerque in Sacramento on Monday, with a pitch count limit nearer to 80 tosses. Colorado manager Bud Black said the club will collect evidence from that appearance to decide if Gray will start next week for the Rockies at Los Angeles or pitch again for the Isotopes.

Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson (left knee inflammation) will also make a rehab start in Sacramento, on Sunday.


Looking ahead

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Antonio Senzatela ...
David Zalubowski, The Associated Press

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Antonio Senzatela reacts after getting St. Louis Cardinals’ Randal Grichuk to hit into a double play to end the top of the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, May 26, 2017, in Denver.

Giants RHP Jeff Samardzija (2-8, 4.31) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (8-2, 3.84), 6:40 p.m., ROOT, 850 AM

Samardzija is running on hard luck. His southward win-loss record is a perfect example of why wins are misleading. The Giants’ veteran right-hander has 100 strikeouts this season, 31 more than the Rockies’ top K guy, Tyler Chatwood. And Samardzija has walked only two batters since May 3, an extraordinary command and control streak over his past eight starts. Senzatela, on the other hand, has a great win-loss record, despite a disturbing 6.46 ERA in his past three starts, including a season-low four-inning outing last week at Chicago. He earned a no-decision in that game.

Saturday: Giants RHP Matt Cain (3-5, 5.22) at Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (7-4, 3.57), 1:10 p.m., ROOT

Sunday: Giants LHP Ty Blach (4-4, 4.24) at Rockies RHP Tyler Chatwood (6-7, 4.16), 1:10 p.m., ROOT

Monday: Off

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