All Systems Go for Yo

All Systems Go for Yo

By Mike Hoblitzell

At age 24, Yovani Gallardo has been cast into the role as “ace” of the Brewers starting rotation, and on Monday, Gallardo will follow in the footsteps of Teddy Higuera and become the second Mexican-born pitcher to start Opening Day for the Brewers.

With Gallardo’s sky-high potential, the Brewers as well as the fans are looking for him to be a leader on the pitching staff, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin says Gallardo has the confidence to take it to the next level.

“Yeah he (Gallardo) thinks he does, and we do too, his stuff’s good enough to do that,” Melvin said.

In 2009, Gallardo posted a 13-12 record, 3.73 ERA, and notched 204 strikeouts. When asked if being the ace of the Brewers starting rotation is something that he wanted, Gallardo was very enthusiastic.

“Of course, I mean who wouldn’t, I’m up for it. It’s one of those things that every starting pitcher would like to accomplish at some
time in their career,” Gallardo said.

Opening Day in Milwaukee has always been somewhat of a spectacle, and it has been especially hyped up the last few seasons due to the team’s success. With all of the hype surrounding this Opening Day and season, Gallardo knows it is an important game but does not feel any extra pressure making this start.

“I don’t look at it as pressure, I look at it as a privilege to me,” Gallardo said.

Although he is remaining cool about making his first Opening Day start, Gallardo is aware that the atmosphere in Miller Park will certainly be electric.

“It’s going to be kind of crazy, (but) you still have to go out there and do your job,” Gallardo said.

The Brewers have made some dramatic moves regarding their pitching this year, starting at the top. Rick Peterson was hired as the new pitching coach, replacing Bill Castro. Peterson has previously worked with manager Ken Macha in Oakland and bench coach Willie Randolph in New York, and is considered to be one of baseball’s top pitching minds. Gallardo is benefiting from Peterson’s tutelage.

“I think he’s (Peterson) got a lot of good points, he’s really into the mechanics, the little things (like) making it easier to get the ball down,” Gallardo said.

Peterson is Gallardo’s third pitching coach since he has been in the major leagues, (the first two being Mike Maddux and Bill Castro), but Gallardo has not struggled adjusting to Peterson’s system.

“I think he’s done great, I’ve had no problems with him, (Peterson)” Gallardo said.

The other moves that the Brewers made with their pitching staff this year were adding veteran hurlers Randy Wolf and Doug Davis to the starting rotation. Wolf went 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, making a career-high 34 starts. Davis is making his return to the Brewers after spending the last few seasons with Arizona. Gallardo is pleased with the addition of two established starters to the roster.

“They’ve (Davis, Wolf) had great success in the major leagues,” Gallardo said.

The Brewers felt that they needed to add extra arms to the team after injuries decimated the starting rotation in 2009.

“We had two key injuries in Soup (Jeff Suppan) and (Dave) Bush, we had no depth,” Gallardo said.

Coming into the 2010 season, Gallardo is looking on improving his numbers, especially when it comes to his pitch count and walking fewer batters.

“It comes down to making little adjustments in my mechanics; I had a bunch of walks. You can always get better, I think I will be able to do that,” Gallardo said.

When the Brewers take on the Colorado Rockies Monday, they will feature a lot of their young, home-grown talent such as Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and Alcides Escobar. Gallardo likes the chemistry of this Brewers team.

“It’s great, I think we get along really well. We have a bunch of guys here that are going to play hard. We’re still young, but we know what to do in the right situations,” Gallardo said.

Despite all of the hoopla and fuss surrounding Opening Day, Gallardo is focused on taking the hill for the Crew and getting a win.

“I’m very excited, I can’t wait,” Gallardo said.


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