Gray to pitch Friday for Harrisburg, Cavalli taking break from rehab

DETROIT – Josiah Gray will make his next rehab start Friday, but Cade Cavalli is taking a break in his rehab assignment to work in the bullpen with the Nationals coaching staff.

Gray, who threw 43 pitches over three innings Sunday for Single-A Fredericksburg in his rehab debut, is scheduled to take the mound again Friday, moving up to Double-A Harrisburg and increasing his workload. The right-hander, who went on the 15-day injured list after two rough starts to his season with a flexor strain in his elbow, said he was pleased with the physical state of his arm after his first competitive game in nearly two months.

“It was good,” he said. “Definitely a little rusty, working out the kinks. But I felt prepared. I felt good for each inning that I threw and worked on some things. Looking forward to the next one.”

Gray allowed three runs on three hits (all for extra bases), with one walk, two strikeouts and a hit-by-pitch in Sunday’s outing. He said he focused mostly on his fastball and cutter and will look to incorporate his full arsenal as he proceeds.

Manager Davey Martinez suggested Gray could make as many as five rehab starts in total before coming off the IL. That timeline wouldn’t have him rejoining the Nationals until the end of the month or perhaps even early July.

“My biggest thing is to make sure he’s 100 percent when he comes back and he’s really crisp,” Martinez said. “That’s the big thing for me. I told him it’s going to take a little time: 'Remember, this for you is like going through spring training.' I always revert back to that, but it really is the same. We’re hoping he gets through this with about four or five starts, and we’ll see where we’re at then.”

Cavalli, meanwhile, remains with the big league club and is scheduled to throw off a bullpen mound Wednesday, then perhaps face live hitters Saturday. The right-hander, in the final stages of recovery from his March 2023 Tommy John surgery, has made three rehab starts in the minors, but Martinez said the club is now putting a halt on his official rehab assignment, giving him time to work on mechanics before restarting the rehab assignment.

“That’s the thing about Tommy John: You can actually manage that a little bit,” Martinez said. “We’re in a good place with him. He’s in a good place. I watched him throw the other day, and he was firing bullets from 100 feet. He’s good. But it’s a process. We’re going to stick to our process and get him ready when we feel like he’s ready to roll. We’ll see him up here sometime this year.”

Cavalli said he’s been using this time to better utilize his lower half, particularly his back leg, to take some strain off his arm.

“It’s just like a breather, a little moment to pause and regather and then go back into the rehab starts and back into attack mode,” he said. “It’s just a good little breather that I’ve got, and I’m very thankful for it, and I’m ready to get going.

“I think we’re right on schedule. We’re purely basing this off health. It’s been going good, so we just want to make sure it stays that way.”

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