Crew, Gallardo will let contract talks 'sit'
GM Melvin confirms discussions after starter struggles on Sunday
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Brewers have had very preliminary talks about a contract extension for right-hander Yovani Gallardo, general manager Doug Melvin said Sunday after an outing that did not exactly inspire the GM to break out his corporate checkbook.
An error by second baseman Rickie Weeks didn't help, but neither did Gallardo's uncharacteristic wildness in a 7-1 loss to the Royals at Surprise Stadium. Gallardo issued three walks, surrendered four hits and exited in a 7-0 hole after recording just two outs in the bottom of the first inning."It was not pretty, I'll tell you that," Gallardo said. Gallardo is focused on preparing for the regular season. At the same time, there is at least some contact between the Brewers and his agent, Bobby Witt, a former big leaguer who spent most of his career with the Rangers until then-Texas general manager Melvin traded him to the Cardinals in 1998. It comes as no surprise that Gallardo, who will not be arbitration-eligible until after the 2010 season and won't be a free agent until after the '13 season, is being targeted by the Brewers for an extension. Principal owner Mark Attanasio said back in January that club officials would identify a core of pre-arbitration players to approach about long-term deals that offer cost certainty to the team and job security to the player. Gallardo inked a 2009 contract on March 3. He was the last player on the 40-man roster to come to terms, and Melvin confirmed that a long-term deal had been discussed.
"We've talked, but we're going to let it sit for now," Melvin said. "And we're probably not going to say much about it. It doesn't do us any good to discuss it [in the media]."Perhaps it's best that Gallardo keeps his focus on the field. Five of the Royals' seven first-inning runs were charged as earned against Gallardo, who walked two batters in his first two Cactus League outings but walked three on Sunday, including Royals third baseman Corey Smith with the bases loaded on a pitch way up and in. Afterward, the usually stoic Gallardo admitted that, "things got to me," and he was not referring to the Weeks error. "I'm very disappointed with today, just falling behind hitters," Gallardo said. "That's what happens when you fall behind. It's something you really can't do. ... The couple of times I was ahead of hitters, I couldn't finish them off." Royals leadoff man Coco Crisp walked, and Alberto Callaspo singled, before Weeks booted what might have been a double-play ball off David DeJesus' bat. Then it was off to the races for the Royals. One run scored on Weeks' misplay, which left runners at the corners for Billy Butler, who singled in another run for a 2-0 lead. After a walk loaded the bases, catcher Brayan Pena stung an RBI single, and Smith worked his run-scoring walk to make it 4-0 with the bases loaded and nobody out. "He's a young kid, and he's going to have to learn to minimize the damage," said manager Ken Macha, who contrasted Gallardo's start with Dave Bush's outing against Cleveland on Friday. The Indians strung together a series of soft hits for a three-run second inning, but Bush held them there, and the Brewers stormed to a 17-7 win. "Here, [Gallardo] got squeezed a little bit, and we had a misplay in the field, and then he had trouble getting out of there," Macha said. "That all comes with the development of young pitchers." Gallardo was stumped by his wildness. He said he felt great in the bullpen warming up, and he was coming off a pair of scoreless appearances in his previous starts. Sunday, though, was a struggle. Gallardo threw a whopping 41 pitches before he was replaced by reliever Tim Dillard with two runners on base. Dillard retired Callapso -- the 11th batter of the inning -- to escape further damage. Were there any positives to take away? "I don't think you can take anything positive from allowing seven runs in the first inning," Gallardo said. "But, you know, that's going to happen. I know it's going to happen, but it's still very frustrating for me. ... It's one of those things where it gets out of hand very quickly." Then Gallardo reconsidered, and found at least one positive. "The positive is that it's March," Gallardo said. "I can get them out of the way."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.