Reds Minor Leaguers got a heavy dose of the Brewers’ Major League pitching staff on Monday, when a lousy weather forecast prompted the Brewers to juggle their pitching plans.
Yovani Gallardo threw 92 pitches in seven innings of a Triple-A game against Cincinnati to stay on schedule for his Opening Day assignment. In the Double-A game on an adjacent field, relievers LaTroy Hawkins, Takashi Saito, Brandon Kintzler and Sean Green all got in some work ahead of the rain.
“It’s definitely a little different,” said Gallardo, who pitched on a side field at Maryvale Baseball Park in front of a few dozen fans. “But you still have the same things you want to work on. Getting to the pitch count is the important thing, too.”
Gallardo was particularly working on his change-up against Cincinnati’s Triple-A club, a pitch he’s tried to hone in recent seasons. He allowed four earned runs and six hits in seven innings, with two walks and seven strikeouts.
He also executed a perfect sacrifice bunt, nearly hit a home run to left field and singled and scored from second base on a hit. As Triple-A manager Don Money waved Gallardo home, the half-dozen Brewers officials behind the screen stiffened.
“I was not going to slide, I’ll be honest,” Gallardo said. “It was kind of surprising he sent me from second there.”
Gallardo scored on the play, then went immediately back to the mound because the Reds pitcher had hit his pitch limits. A Reds two-run rally began with a soft ground-ball single up the middle and included a bloop hit that went over shortstop Zelous Wheeler’s head.
Still, Gallardo deemed the outing a success.
“Coming into spring I said I was going to throw more change-ups, and we tried to work on that,” he said. “I threw a lot here today. I feel a lot more comfortable with it now. I’m trusting it more. It’s going good.”
Gallardo has one more spring start before his March 31 season-opener in Cincinnati.
“The last start of the spring, you treat it almost as if it were the regular season,” he said.
Hawkins was very sharp in his Double-A “start,” allowing one hit and no runs in a 16-pitch inning. Saito followed and allowed two runs on three hits including a two-run double that bounced over third base. He struck out one batter and threw 18 pitches.