Waiting game

Frewsburg’s Grey ready for his chance on the mound

Connor Grey, a 2012 Frewsburg graduate, is pictured in the bullpen at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. Grey was called up to the New York Mets on Monday. Photo courtesy of Aaron Hair

NEW YORK — The early part of this week was a whirlwind for Connor Grey.

Now he’s playing the waiting game.

The 2012 Frewsburg Central School graduate, who has spent parts of six seasons in the minor leagues and independent ball, joined the New York Mets in the Big Apple last Monday for his first call up to the majors, but has yet to take the mound.

“I knew I was capable of doing this and getting to the highest point. I’ve always had confidence in myself knowing I have what it takes to get here,” Grey said Wednesday evening. “Even though I haven’t pitched yet, I made it. I’m a big leaguer and I’m on the roster. I’m just waiting for my time to get out there.”

Last weekend, the Mets played a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies and ended up selecting the contracts of Grey’s Syracuse teammates — No. 15 prospect Jose Butto and left-handed reliever Nate Fisher — to cover additional innings Sunday.

Butto ended up lasting just four innings and Fisher then threw three scoreless innings in the Mets’ 10-9 victory. Around the same time in Charlotte, after riding the team bus back to the hotel, Grey was asked to return to Truist Field for some news.

“Once they called me back, it was either good or bad news. With how I had been pitching lately, I didn’t think it was going to be bad news,” Grey said. “I was happy just to be thought of for the taxi squad.”

Rain fell throughout the day in New York on Monday, putting that evening’s game in jeopardy. Grey hopped on the team bus at Citi Field and made the 9 1/2-mile trek across town, not yet knowing if he would be activated for that night’s game.

“My flight got into New York City at 9 a.m.,” Grey said. “We bussed over to Yankee Stadium at 2:30 where I introduced myself to (manager) Buck Showalter and (pitching coach) Jeremy Hefner.”

Once it was determined the game would be played, Grey was added to the roster while Fisher and another left-hander, Rob Zastryzny, were designated for assignment.

“The nerves didn’t really hit until I was at Yankee Stadium and got activated,” Grey said. “We had a police escort from Citi Field to Yankee Stadium. It was something you dream of. Being the Subway Series, everything is amplified. It was a sold-out stadium both nights.”

Grey warmed up before the game like any other, but the Mets’ Max Scherzer was lined up to start for New York, so if things went according to plan, Grey likely would not be needed.

“Walking out of the dugout was probably the biggest ‘wow’ moment. Standing out in center field at Yankee Stadium and playing catch out there,” Grey said, “and walking out to the bullpen at the start of the game in front of 50,000 fans.”

Scherzer went 6 2/3 innings before turning the game over to Trevor May and Mychal Givens in a 4-2 loss for the Mets.

Tuesday seemed like the better opportunity for Grey to pitch because Taijaun Walker had already had his start pushed back a couple of days due to back spasms.

Although Walker got through the game healthy, he did run into trouble in the fourth inning. Aaron Judge hit a long two-out home run off Walker to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Anthony Rizzo and Gleyber Torres followed with singles before Josh Donaldson walked to load the bases. Once Walker walked Oswaldo Cabrera to force in a run, it seemed like Grey might get his first big-league opportunity.

The 2016 St. Bonaventure graduate began warming up in the bullpen as Walker pitched to Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Had Walker allowed another base runner, the Mets may have turned to Grey. Cameras for SNY, the Mets’ broadcast network, panned to Grey and play-by-plan man Gary Cohen explained that Grey, “who was called up Monday and had yet to make his Major League debut, was getting ready as quick as he can.”

But four pitches later, Walker induced a grounder from Kiner-Falefa and the inning was over. Walker remained in the game for one more inning before the Mets turned to more experienced bullpen arms Seth Lugo, Joely Rodriguez and Adam Ottavino to finish the game.

“I’m not rooting for anybody to not do well. I’m here to help the team win in any way I can,” Grey said. “If they call my name, I’ll get ready just like a minor league game, go out there and attack hitters. Ultimately, the goal here in the big leagues is to win the World Series.”

Grey’s parents, Lyn and Randy, and brothers, Rich and Kyle, drove to New York City late Monday, and finally got to meet up with him at field level following Tuesday’s game to share in the moment. Childhood friends Aaron and Matt Hair also made the trip from Frewsburg.

New York opens a 10-game homestand this evening at Citi Field. After a four-game series with the Colorado Rockies, the Mets have an off day before three-game series with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals.

If Grey remains on the roster past that point, he’ll play a little closer to home. The Mets play a three-game series Sept. 5-7 against the Pirates at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

“You don’t have any allegiance to your fandom growing up,” said Grey, who grew up a Yankees fan. “It was surreal being at Yankee Stadium and being called up there after growing up and going to games there. … Now my job is to play for the Mets and win games for them.”


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