Editor’s note: Gray was later determined to have suffered a stroke. He never pitched again after this incident.
Jeff Gray has been the iron man of the Red Sox bullpen this season, but his baseball future was placed in jeopardy yesterday when he suffered a dizzy spell and apparent spasm after a morning workout at Fenway Park.
Gray had just finished a session in the weight room when he had a seizure while sitting in a chair in front of his locker. Witnesses reported that Gray had numbness in his right arm and leg and a slurring of his speech, prompting club officials to rush him to Beth Israel Hospital, where he had tests and spent the night.
First reports suggested that Gray, 28, had suffered a stroke or heart attack, but team physician Arthur Pappas ruled out both while saying he wouldn’t have an exact explanation until more tests are completed today.
“In any event, he won’t be pitching for a few days,” said Pappas. “Not until we know exactly what has happened. It’s more in the area of a migraine headache or a spasm than a stroke. But we won’t know for sure until we complete the tests.”
Gray, who had a similar attack 10 years ago while pitching in a game for Florida State, underwent a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test and a CAT scan, both of which proved negative. He also had a neurological consultation and other evaluation.
“The information we have at this time indicates he does not show evidence of a major stroke, and he’s showing some improvement in his speech and in the strength in his arm and leg,” said Pappas. “After the CAT scan, we saw no bleeding, another indication that there was no heart attack. We are very optimistic that this is more of a spasm or migraine-type problem rather than a stroke, as was originally thought.”
Manager Joe Morgan said he was stunned by Gray’s episode but was aware that it had happened before.
“He was completely evaluated at that time, with two angiograms, the current test at that time,” said Pappas. “It did not show any abnormality of vessels or any unusual spasms. He has recovered and this is the first time in 10 years that he’s had any similar episodes.”
Stress and exhaustion could have contributed to Gray’s problem. He has been the workhorse of the bullpen, appearing in a league-high 50 games. As the setup man for Jeff Reardon, Gray has worked 61 2/3 innings and excelled at his job, holding opponents to a .181 batting average. He has allowed only 10 walks while striking out 41 and prevented 24 of 36 inherited runners from scoring. In his last 25 appearances, Gray has a 1-0 record and 1.67 earned run average.
But the team’s reliance on him in this trying season may have taken its toll. He has warmed up in many more games than the 50 he appeared in, and the extra work in the weight room was an attempt by Gray to build up his stamina.
“There is no way to say when he’ll pitch again,” said Pappas.