Josiah Gray acknowledged there were some real emotions involved in going up against the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time earlier this season, after the Dodgers traded him to the Washington Nationals in the deadline deal last July 30th which sent both Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to LA.
“There were a lot of emotions, honestly,” Gray told reporters after a rough outing at home in Nationals Park back in late May, in which he surrendered five hits (three of them home runs), three walks, and seven earned runs in just three innings of work against the Dodgers, who’d acquired the right-hander, selected in the 2nd Round of the 2018 Draft by Cincinnati’s Reds, in late December trade later in ‘18.
“You know, in being traded twice already, I guess this was my first opportunity to prove myself against a former team,” Gray said.
“So I obviously let the emotions get ahead of me and didn’t control them from the first pitch on. But yeah, the emotions were there. Kind of just wanting to prove them like, ‘Hey, you guys are missing out.’ But unfortunately, the outing didn’t go my way. But yeah, they were definitely there.”
“A little over-amped in my mind,” Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo said, when asked to assess the outing in his weekly visit with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies back in May.
“Tried to be a power pitcher instead of a guy who — hit your spots, work your plan, and utilize your repertoire and that type of thing, but that’s not unexpected in these type of games.
“First time you face a team that [traded you], you want to impress and you want to — oftentimes young pitchers want to over-throw and try to do too much.”
“I think the first time he was amped up,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters before last night’s series opener in Los Angeles. “We talked about it the next day. I think this time, this go-round, he knows, even though he is in Dodger Stadium ... I think he knows that he’s got to control his emotions and just get to the next pitch. The biggest thing with that, like I told him, ‘Hey, just make your pitch and then get to the next pitch and do what you’ve been doing. He’s been good, and he’s been learning, so nothing changes.”
Martinez, who was traded five times in his own 16-year big league career, knows of what he speaks, and he said he too wanted to show his former teams what they’d traded away when he faced them for the first time.
“Probably after the first trade, yeah, I wanted to do really well,” Martinez joked. “But after that I was like, ‘Ahhh...’ I was like, ‘It is what it is, let’s go.’”
And Keibert Ruiz, the No. 1 catcher for the Nationals now, who came over with Gray, pitcher Gerardo Carrillo, and outfielder Donovan Casey in return for Scherzer and Turner? Is there any concern about how he’ll handle going up against the Dodgers who’d signed him out of Venezuela in 2014 in Dodger Stadium?
“I mean, these guys are both going to — their former team, so they’re both going to go out there and try to do everything they can to try to help us win a game,” Martinez said, “... but Keibert is one of those guys where he’s very even-keel, so I just expect him to go out there and just do what he’s been doing. He swung the bat really good yesterday, had great at-bats, so I hope that he continues that today.”