Yovani Gallardo has not pitched on Opening Day since his high school days in Fort Worth, Tex. He would like to be that guy on April 5, when the Brewers kick-start their 2010 season at home against the Rockies.
“Trust me, I think about it,” Gallardo said. “I would like to be. I think it would be a great experience.”
Manager Ken Macha’s response?
“I’ll just say that I’m glad to hear that,” he said.
Macha has been coy about his pitching plans for the regular season and might remain so until the Brewers’ align their rotation following a March 24 off day. For now, Gallardo is lined up just right to remain on an every-five-day schedule with one extra day of rest before facing the Rockies in the opener. He would be followed by Randy Wolf and then Doug Davis in the series.
Gallardo is the obvious choice for the Brewers after going 13-12 last season with a 3.73 ERA and a team-best 204 strikeouts. He was a candidate for Opening Day last season but Macha instead chose Jeff Suppan for the assignment, figuring Suppan might be better suited to the hubbub associated with an opener.
So Gallardo pitched Game 2 instead, and hit a home run off the Giants’ Randy Johnson to win the game. He wasn’t mad about being passed over for Opening Day.
“Honestly, not really,” Gallardo said. “If I would have got it, I would have obviously been very excited. But I didn’t expect it because I was hurt the year before and didn’t pitch. I wasn’t upset.”
Gallardo missed most of the 2008 season with a knee injury.
He got through 2009 without any setbacks and has been cruising through his Cactus League assignments this spring. On Monday against the Indians at Maryvale Baseball Park, he retired the first nine hitters he faced before a pair of former Brewers prospects touched him for a run in the fourth inning. Michael Brantley singled leading off the inning and eventually scored on Matt LaPorta’s sacrifice fly.
Gallardo escaped without further damage and struck out five batters without a walk in his four-inning stint.