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Sonny Gray says Yankees pushed him to throw slider more often

In this Feb. 13, 2019, file photo, Cincinnati

In this Feb. 13, 2019, file photo, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Sonny Gray (54) and Tanner Roark pause during workouts at the Reds spring training baseball facility, in Goodyear, Ariz.  Credit: AP/Ross D. Franklin

TAMPA, Fla.— Sonny Gray appeared to blame the Yankees for his rough 1 ½ seasons in the Bronx, saying the organization pushed him to throw a slider far more often than he wanted to.

Gray, whom the Yankees traded for in 2017 and dealt this offseason to Cincinnati after going 15-16 with a 4.51 ERA, indicated to The Athletic that the organization tried to make him something he was not.

“They love sliders,” he said in a story posted Tuesday. “Sliders are a great pitch. The numbers say slider is a good pitch, but you might not realize how many [expletive] counts you’re getting in while throwing all those sliders. They wanted me to be [Masahiro] Tanaka and I’m way different from him.”

According to, Gray threw his sinker 29.86 percent of the time last season, followed by his four-seamer (25.77 percent), curveball (23.68) and slider (15.89). In 2017, it went sinker (33.34 percent), four-seamer (30.01), slider (15.27) and curveball (14.54). In 2015 with Oakland, a year Gray went 14-7 with a 2.73 ERA and finished third in AL Cy Young voting, the righthander threw his four-seamer 36.49 percent of the time, followed by his sinker (23.83), slider (16.69) and curveball (13.66).

Fangraphs has slightly different numbers, including his slider percentages, which that website had him throwing 17 percent last season, 16.1 in 2017 and 15.9 in 2015.

“We just tried to get him to be the best he could be and as successful as he could be,” Aaron Boone said. “I don’t know if I’d characterize it as we pushed him to throw it. I mean, he throws a slider.”

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