Sonny Gray showing progress after his first bullpen session since a hamstring injury

Mar 4, 2024; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA;  St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54)
Mar 4, 2024; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

A week after sending fans into a panic, St. Louis Cardinals' starting pitcher Sonny Gray looked to be heading in the right direction. Gray had his first bullpen Monday session following a week of recuperating from a hamstring injury,

The hamstring injury forced his removal from his last Spring Training start. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the right-hander stood on the mound Monday and fired pitches without pain. Goold said Gray threw a 20-pitch bullpen session at the team’s spring training facility on Monday morning before the exhibition game against the Washington Nationals.

Gray was upbeat about the progress he's made since the injury. After an MRI, it was concluded the injury was mild. Since then, Gray resumed light activities by playing catch and doing strength and conditioning work in the weight room. He played catch from a distance of 120-150 feet on Saturday,

The true test will come Tuesday morning as the team learns how Gray feels after his bullpen session. How he recovers from his throwing session will determine Gray's next action. The team's plan to have him as the Opening Day starter was placed on hold after the injury. Cardinals manager Oli Marmol said, "We’ll see how he recovers from this and figure out what that progression looks like from here.”

The Athletics' Katie J. Woo reported that Gray would not have to restart a throwing program to build up.

Gray was the top offseason acquisition for John Mozeliak, the Cardinals' president of baseball operations. Having Gray available on Opening Day could be vital for the team's morale and fanbase. The fanbase was promised "pitching, pitching, pitching" this offseason. The fans seem a little bitter that more was not acquired this offseason. Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson were the other starting pitchers signed by Mozeliak. Gray, Lynn, and Gibson join Miles Mikolas and a mix of Steven Matz, Drew Rom, Matthew Liberatore, and Zack Thompson.

The fanbase's apprehension is understandable after a devastating 2023 season that ended with a 71-91 record.

Gray getting sidelined in his journey to be ready for Opening Day feels like a punch in the gut to fans hoping Mozeliak would have signed one of the top-tier starting pitchers still available in Blake Snell or former Cardinals' Jordan Montgomery.

Opening Day is March 28 for the Cardinals, who will take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. It will be interesting to see what happens in the meantime.