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Ex-Yankee Sonny Gray gets surprising Opening Day nod

One team’s trash became another team’s treasure.

The Reds named Ex-Yankee Sonny Gray their opening day starter Wednesday. It’s a far-cry from his performance in the Bronx just two years ago.

The Yankees acquired Gray during the 2017 season, helping to add rotational depth for the second half of the season. The 30-year-old suffered a disastrous 2018 season, however, posting a 4.90 ERA in 23 starts and 30 total appearances. By the end of the season, Gray had pitched himself out of the rotation, and did not even make the team’s postseason roster.

Following the 2018 season, the Yankees shipped Gray to the Reds, receiving minor leaguer Josh Stowers in return in a three-team trade. At the time, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Gray would find more success elsewhere. He was right.

In his first season in Cincinnati, Gray posted an 11-8 record with a 2.87 ERA. He was named a National League All-Star, his first appearance in the midseason classic since his 2015 season with the A’s.

“There’s no denying the fact that Sonny has stepped up,” manager David Bell told reporters Wednesday. “He’s a leader. He sets a great example. He also had a great season last year. We couldn’t have asked for a better option to set the tone for the season for our rotation.”

It’s not as if the Reds are starved for pitchers, either. Gray got the opening day nod over Luis Castillo, who was also named an All-Star last year with a 15-8 record and 3.40 ERA. The team also acquired the outspoken Trevor Bauer last season, but he struggled upon arrival, recording a 6.39 ERA in 10 starts with the team.

“His reaction was almost like he was expecting it,” Bell said. “He has so much respect for his fellow starters that he didn’t make a big deal out of it with me, but I could tell by his reaction that it meant a lot to him. He’s just so focused. He kind of took it in stride.”

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