Gallardo gets Opening Day nod

It’s becoming an annual rite for the Brewers: Home-grown right-hander Yovani Gallardo will be the team’s Opening Day starter.

Gallardo, 26, gets the nod for the third straight season, putting him in exclusive company in terms of Brewers history.  Jim Slaton and Teddy Higuera started three openers apiece, and Ben Sheets got the nod a club-record five six times, including four straight Opening Days from 2002-05.

Right-hander Zack Greinke and left-hander Randy Wolf will follow Gallardo in the Brewers’ season-opening series against the Cardinals at Miller Park. Righty Shaun Marcum is on track to follow April 9 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, assuming he doesn’t have any shoulder setbacks before then. Lefty Chris Narveson would follow as the fifth starter.

“I think you go by what happens the season before. ‘Yo’ opened up for us last year, had a great year, and we’d like him to open up again,” manager Ron Roenicke said.

Roenicke informed Gallardo and Greinke of the plan over the previous two days. Both have started Opening Days before — so has Marcum — putting Roenicke in a pleasantly tough position. He said Greinke took the news well.

“I think it’s really nice having Greinke going second,” Roenicke said. “He would love to start Opening Day, but he’s really a good team player. He understands reasoning for doing things, and he’s very compliant with what we ask him to do. It was good.”

The Brewers have lost each of Gallardo’s openers but he pitched reasonably well. He pitched through the sixth inning each time and allowed five earned runs in 13 innings of those games, a 5-3 loss to Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies in 2010 and a 7-6 loss to the Reds in 2011 in which Cincinnati scored four runs in the ninth inning against closer John Axford to stun the Brewers.

Picking a pitcher for the opener is “important,” Roenicke said.

“We’re in a rare situation where we have two No. 1 guys,” he said. “And our Nos. 3, 4, 5 aren’t too bad, either.”

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