Cardinals ace Sonny Gray could miss opening day start against the Dodgers because of hamstring

Tue, Mar 5, 2024
MLB News (AP)

Cardinals ace Sonny Gray could miss opening day start against the Dodgers because of hamstring

St. Louis Cardinals ace Sonny Gray could miss an opening day start because of a mild right hamstring strain sustained in his latest spring training outing.

The three-time All-Star right-hander left his start Monday against Washington after 20 pitches. The Cardinals initially said Gray had tightness in his hamstring, and an MRI revealed the strain.

"We've had some encouraging news that it's a mild strain. Not going to put any return-to-play (date) on it," president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Tuesday. "It's been less than 24 hours. We're going to see how he responds over the next few days. But from the MRI reading, we're definitely encouraged. Fingers crossed this isn't something that's going to linger too long."

Following their poorest season since 1995, the Cardinals gave Gray a $75 million, three-year contract in November to anchor a revamped rotation that includes fellow newcomer Kyle Gibson and returning starter Lance Lynn. Gray is coming off one of the best seasons of his 11-year major league career, going 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA for Minnesota while finishing second to the New York Yankees' Gerrit Cole in AL Cy Young voting.

Gray was sharp in his spring training debut, throwing a pair of scoreless innings, and he was shutting down Washington before his hamstring problem popped up with two outs in the second inning. He motioned for catcher Willson Contreras to come to the mound, and soon manager Oliver Marmol and Cardinals head athletic trainer Adam Olsen had joined them.

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Gray has a history of hamstring injuries, twice missing time during the 2022 season with Minnesota.

Mozeliak said the Cardinals have not discussed who would replace Gray against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day on March 28. Miles Mikolas appears to be the most likely candidate after starting on opening day last year.

If Gray starts the season on the injured list, Matthew Liberatore and Zach Thompson are in line to take his spot in the rotation.

"It would be challenging, I think, at this point (to start opening day)," Mozeliak acknowledged at the Cardinals' spring training base in Jupiter, Florida. "We just have to give it a little air, a little space, and we'll understand more the next few days."

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