After missing nearly all of the 2008 season with knee injuries, Yovani Gallardo was the Brewers’ de facto ace last season, despite not getting the Opening Day start in 2009.
This year, Gallardo is ready to take the final step toward becoming the Brewers ace.
“Of course, who wouldn’t?” Gallardo said of wanting the role. “It’s just one of those things that I think every starting pitcher would like to accomplish at some point in their career.
“It means a lot to me for the fact that two years ago I missed a whole year, and to be able to get this, this year, it just proves how much confidence they have in me. It just makes me push a little bit harder and work harder.”
With his first Opening Day start just two days away, Yovani Gallardo met with the media Saturday morning to discuss that role and his feelings about Monday’s start against the Colorado Rockies.
Last season, the Opening Day start was given to Jeff Suppan in place of Gallardo, with the pressure of the season’s first game given as a possible reason. Now that he’s been given the assignment, though, Gallardo is not worried about the pressure.
“I don’t look at it as pressure; I look at it as a privilege,” he said. “It is a privilege to me; it’s very important to me, and I’m very excited.”
Gallardo will go head-to-head with Rockies righty Ubaldo Jimenez, who finished 2009 with a 15-12 record. More impressively, though, Jimenez posted an ERA of just 3.47.
Like Gallardo, the start on Monday will be the first on Opening Day for Jimenez.
Colorado went 92-70 in 2009, finishing just three games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West title and earning the NL Wild Card spot. With a similar squad returning in 2010, many have projected the Rockies to contend for a playoff spot once again.
In fact, some have even suggested they could represent the National League in the World Series. With that in mind, Gallardo is aware of the challenge he’ll face on the field Monday.
“They’ve got a good-hitting team (and) some good young hitters as well,” he said. “We’ve got work to do on that as far as scouting, (but) we’ve still got a couple days before we start doing that.”
— Jordan Schelling, Associate Reporter