April 18, 2024

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Cardinals outfielder Sonny Gray begins with a hamstring injury

Cardinals outfielder Sonny Gray begins with a hamstring injury

Sonny Gray, the St. Louis Cardinals' top offseason acquisition, was removed. Louis Cardinals, is off to the start of his second exhibition with tightness in his right hamstring, according to a team spokesman.

He threw 20 pitches over 1 2/3 innings Monday against the Washington Nationals but was called out by catcher Wilson Contreras after throwing a pitch halfway through an at-bat against catcher Kebert Ruiz.

Gray was quickly interviewed on the mound by Contreras, head coach Adam Olsen, manager Ollie Marmol and pitching coach Dusty Blake. This was quickly followed by the decision to remove it from the game.

Gray, who signed a three-year, $75 million contract with St. Louis in November, was named the Opening Day starter last week. He remained in the dugout until the end of the inning on Monday before being taken out of position for further evaluation.

What is the initial level of anxiety?

Concern will always arise after a team's presumed starter leaves the spring game early. Gray was scheduled to pitch three innings and pass in the first. But after checking out in the second half, both Gray and Contreras immediately knew something was wrong.

The Cardinals won't know the extent of Gray's hamstring tightness until Tuesday. Gray is scheduled to undergo an MRI Monday evening in Jupiter.

The Cardinals are clearly hoping to avoid any serious injury, but if Gray is sidelined, their rotation leaves a lot to be desired. Miles Mikulas and Kyle Gibson will complete the upper class, with Steven Matz (who pitched a scoreless inning with two hits in his Grapefruit League debut Monday) and Lance Lynn making up the middle. Matthew Liberatore and Zach Thompson would be the most likely candidates to fill out the rotation, and perhaps both left-handers could make the cut if the Cardinals decide to use a temporary six-man rotation to open the year.

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However, the Cardinals will wait to make any decisions until they know the extent of Gray's injury.

Has Gray dealt with hamstring injuries before?

Gray had a healthy year in 2023 with the Minnesota Twins, pitching in all 32 games, but landed on the injured list three times in 2022. Two of those stints were hamstring-related. Gray missed nearly three weeks in mid-April of 2022 with what the Twins described as a “low-grade right hamstring strain” and was placed on the IL again in mid-September with another right hamstring strain.

Despite an injury-riddled 2022, Gray has certainly put concerns about his hamstring in 2023. He and the Cardinals hope Monday's early exit is a precaution, but the next 24 hours will be clear.

(Sonny Gray Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP)