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Cardinals Confirm Starting Pitcher for Opening Day

Sonny Gray was invited into Oliver Marmol‘s office for some news. Marmol and pitching coach Dusty Blake told the $80 million offseason acquisition that he is going to be the Opening Day starter on March 28. The St. Louis Cardinals will face the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Gray gave a glimpse as to what went on when he had a quick conversation with Marmol and Blake.

“I got chills and everything. And while sitting there, I was like, ‘Whoa, you got me there and I don’t get got a lot, but you just got me,'” Gray said. “I’ve enjoyed every conversation with Oli, and that was a good one.”

Sonny Gray Tabbed As Opening Day Starter

Marmol said he’s known since the offseason when the Cardinals landed Gray, that he wanted the right-hander on the mound against the Dodgers. With the Minnesota Twins last season, the 34-year-old finished second in the American League Cy Young voting, while compiling a 2.79 ERA, good for MLB’s third-lowest. When spring training opened two weeks ago, Gray had done nothing but leave an impression on the club. His vocal leadership and willingness to pour into others in hopes of making the pitching staff better as a whole.

“I think we nailed it when it comes to bringing this guy because Sonny has done a phenomenal job not only with what he says, but how he goes about it,” Marmol said. “He’s been a great example for everybody else and it’s contagious. How he goes about the game, he’s so good with talking through it and guys around listen to it.”

Cardinals Opening Day History

Gray will become the sixth pitcher in franchise history to make his first start with the club on Opening Day. Kyle Lohse was the most recent pitcher to do so in 2008 against the Colorado Rockies. In three career Opening Day starts, twice with the Oakland Athletics and once with the Cincinnati Reds, Gray is 2-0. He has allowed only one earned run allowed in 22 innings.

Gray is one of three former All-Star starting pitchers to join the Cardinals in the offseason. The other two, Kyle Gibson and Lance Lynn are both expected to make their debuts at spring training this week. The rotation will consist of Gray, Lynn, Gibson, Miles Mikolas and Steven Matz. Gray was glad to see the Cardinals sign established veterans. It made him motivated to want to be a part of the St. Louis staff.

“You want to talk about changing a pitching culture or creating and establishing a strong pitcher culture. You’re bringing in Lance, bringing in Kyle and bringing in me,” Gray said at his press conference in late November. “You want to talk about creating an edge and having some intent and fire from the guys who take the ball. You’re definitely doing that. You want to talk about someone who takes the ball and has an edge, you’ll see it.”

Main Photo: © Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports


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