CINCINNATI — Sonny Gray is grateful for the opportunity to start Opening Day for the Reds and says he's prepared for the moment.
"I'm very excited about it," said the 30-year-old right-hander, who will face the Tigers Friday night in his third Opening Day start. "I haven't thought about the moment itself, but it's an exciting challenge that I think I'm ready for."
The decision is a testament to Gray's performance after coming to Cincinnati from the New York Yankees in a trade in January 2019. He reunited with Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson, who mentored him at Vanderbilt. The 2019 All-Star went 11-8 last season with a 2.87 ERA and 205 strikeouts.
"There's no denying the fact that Sonny has stepped up," Reds manager David Bell said. "He’s a leader. He sets a great example, and we couldn't ask for a better option to set the tone for the season and for our rotation."
Gray will anchor a pitching staff with high expectations for the shortened 60-game season in 2020. He will get the nod over Luis Castillo, last year's Opening Day starter and fellow All-Star. Trevor Bauer, Wade Miley and Anthony DeSclafani will round out the starters.
MLB.com lists the Reds' starting rotation as third-best in the league. Bell says the team is in a good spot.
"We believe in all our guys so much," Bell said. "We could’ve come up with any order and felt great about it."
"To start Opening Day in the season like this is going to be something that will be remembered for a long time," Gray said. "The 2020 Reds can be the talk of the town and that's what we think is going to happen. That’s what we believe is going to happen."