Yo is ready to go
Thursday afternoon, in a quiet, empty Miller Park – save for his teammates and some media – Yovani Gallardo walked over the pitching mound to look it over with the grounds crew.
He stood off to the side and cocked his head. It looked right.
He stepped to the rubber and set his feet. It felt right.
All that's left is to wait for 3 p.m. today, when Gallardo makes his third consecutive Opening Day start. Gallardo ties Teddy Higuera with three straight opening day starts, behind Ben Sheets who started four in a row.
"It's definitely means a lot to me," the 26-year-old right-hander said. "It just shows what they think of me as a pitcher, just to get that opportunity. I definitely look at it as a privilege. Having this being my third year, I think it just makes me work harder to achieve those things."
Manager Ron Roenicke said there was some discussion as to whether or not to go with former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke this afternoon, but in the end Gallardo's place as a homegrown player, and his performance in 2011, led to this start.
It's the first of what Gallardo hopes is many – specifically, 20 – wins.
"That's a goal for any starting pitcher, to achieve that special (number)," he said. "But it's tough now. It's tough to get those 20 wins, but I have my mind set on that."
Rather than couch that around a larger team goal, Roenicke embraced Gallardo's dream, and believes that not only does he have the talent to do it, but the players around him to help.
"Every year that he pitches, he's getting more a confident in what he does and what he knows and how to get out hitter," Roenicke said. "By doing those things – he certainly has the stuff to do it, he has the command to do it – and I don't see why with this team have I don't see why he couldn't win 20 games."
To start that journey, Gallardo said trying to keep his composure early on this afternoon will be key.
"I'm just trying to stay relaxed as much as I can," he said. "That's what I try to do. But for some reason it's hard. It's tough. It's probably one of the toughest things for me to handle. But like I said, I'm looking forward to it. I'm very excited."
That excitement was prevalent throughout the clubhouse, beginning on the team's arrival in Milwaukee from Arizona on Wednesday night.
Roenicke couldn't keep a smile from creeping to the corners of his mouth when discussing this team and its potential, even with the loss of All-Star Prince Fielder.
"Any time you have Opening Day there's so much excitement in a new season with a team we think has the capability of doing some great things," he said.
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