“He’s been so good for us for a year and a half,” Bell said. “He’s gone deep into games. He’s healthy. He’s even healthier this year than he was last year. We want to make sure we keep it that way. We don’t like pushing anyone back this time of year given the season and everything, but at least we will have him in Chicago, which is a good thing.”
Gray (5-2), Bell and the Reds will find out whether that’s true Thursday when he faces the Cubs in the finale of a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
“I feel fine, physical, mentally – everything,” the 2019 All-Star said. "I feel like I could go out (Thursday) and be in a good spot. I got a lot of work in the bullpen. I had bullpens Sunday and (Tuesday). I like pitching against the Cubs, and I like pitching in Wrigley. It’ll be different without fans for sure, like everything is this year. I’m confident going out there.
“I feel comfortable taking the ball. I will feel better now than I would have a couple of days ago.”
Ironically, Gray’s control problems most likely allowed him to extend to 41 his major league-record streak of consecutive starts allowing six or fewer hits.
While Gray was throwing bullpens, rookie Tejay Antone started in Gray’s place on Sunday in Pittsburgh and Tyler Mahle made Tuesday’s start in the series-opener in Chicago.
“(Tyler) Mahle threw the ball great,” Gray said. “Tejay (Antone) threw the ball great. Hopefully, we can keep it rolling right along.”
Gray admitted that he suspected something was off going into his last start. He hopes he learned how to handle it better.
“You can probably feel it a little bit,” he said. "For me to take that next step means managing it a little better. If you look back at that game, you can’t walk guys. When you know you don’t have it, you almost have to have a reverse mindset. If you don’t have great stuff, you’ve got to attack more. When you don’t feel great and the ball isn’t coming out of your hand, you’ve got to figure out a way to do better.
“It happened. It was a long time ago.”