Sonny Gray reaffirms commitment to St. Louis and ‘The Cardinal Way’

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ST. LOUIS – Sonny Gray, last year’s American League Cy Young runner-up and three-time All-Star, headlines a new-look starting rotation for the St. Louis Cardinals.

After signing a three-year, $75 million contract with the Cardinals in November, Gray quickly noted that the team’s history and tradition drew him to St. Louis. He echoed a similar sentiment Saturday during his first Cardinals Winter Warm-Up appearance.

Gray spent several minutes discussing his views on “The Cardinal Way,” and he feels that philosophies embraced within the organization are timeless, even after last season’s setbacks.

“I’ve heard ‘The Cardinal Way, The Cardinal Way, The Cardinal Way’ my whole career,” said Gray. “I think everyone’s Cardinal Way might have a little bit of a different meaning, but I think the guts and the foundation of it are still there. And the foundation is still very strong. It gets tweaked, but everything gets tweaked. You have to continue to grow.”

He continued on the matter, “I think being able to put your own stamp or footprint on something is something I look forward to being able to do, but I’m not doing it by myself. … You got so many guys and people, and coaches and players that pick you up when you need it, and put it on [their footprint] with you. I look forward to putting my footprint all over this organization, but in the right way, and with other people right next to me.”

Key comments from John Mozeliak at Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up

A Tennessee native, Gray didn’t grow up too far from Cardinals territory. Lead executive John Mozeliak said Gray was someone St. Louis wanted to draft more than a decade ago before he joined the Oakland Athletics.

Eleven seasons and four teams later, Gray is now a St. Louis Cardinal. He says the team name carries a big meaning to him as well.

“What a Cardinal bird itself is, you see a Cardinal, and it [represents] a loved one passing on. It’s a remembrance of them every time you see a Cardinal. I picked that up, and I’m like ‘Wow.’ That’s special. That holds a place in my heart.”

Gray says he’s spoken with new battery mate Willson Contreras a few times already and looks forward to building a strong relationship with him.

“A highly competitive guy, which I like,” said Gray on Contreras. “We’ll be on the same page with that. He seems to be high-energy, which I like. Conversations have been great. Every time we talk, he’s looking to bring back a championship to St. Louis. I look forward to getting down [to Jupiter, Florida for spring training] and working with him.”

Gray hopes to work closely with the coaching staff to make improvements to his arsenal.

“I look forward to sitting down with [pitching coach] Dusty [Blake] and the pitching department and guys who are here to say, ‘Hey, how can I get better?’ It’s a working relationship, and I do look forward to that. I think stating within you strengths or core beliefs or what’s gotten me to this point of my career, but with the ability to look back and see the big picture of how I get better.”

Gray says he’s been strengthening his offseason routine in recent weeks, also embracing his new home with family.

“I came here a month and a half ago with the signing and that’s exciting,” said Gray. “You go home, and it sets in a little more. You get Cardinal gear, you get Cardinal hats, your family gets into it, and then you go through Christmas.”

“I think the fun part about it for me today compared to last time is letting Gunnar see it,” said Gray on his eight-year-old son, who sat aside from him during interviews. “[Also], having [my five-year-old son] Declan be a part of it, having my wife here to see it, that’s the cool part for me to see them because you can see the excitement in their faces. That makes it that much better for me.”

Gray is the favorite to start Opening Day in late March against the Los Angeles Dodgers.


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