SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher and Team Mexico ace Yovani Gallardo pitched one inning without issue in an exhibition with the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, setting him up to start against Team USA in the World Baseball Classic on Friday, pending medical clearance.
Gallardo, who has been dealing with a groin strain that has limited in Brewers camp, started for Team Mexico at Salt River Fields, striking out the side and issuing two walks on 24 total pitches.
“For me, the main goal was to make sure I was healthy,” Gallardo said. “I wasn’t worried about it going into it. Yet again you always have that in the back of your mind because you’ve been treating it for five days. It felt fine.
“My mechanics got away for those two hitters, but then I was able to get out of the inning.”
Gallardo, who has started on Opening Day the last three seasons for the Brewers, said he has been told by Team Mexico he will start Friday against Team USA as long as the Brewers’ medical staff clears him on Wednesday. He would take the mound opposite 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, who Team USA manager Joe Torre picked on Monday to open the tournament.
Gallardo suffered the groin strain last Tuesday and was scratched from a scheduled Sunday start. Before Tuesday’s game, Mexican manager Rick Renteria said Gallardo was his likely start as long as everything went well in the inning of work.
“This is more of a gauging moment,” Renteria said. “All indications are he’s doing fine.”
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told reporters Tuesday the team is relying on Gallardo to be truthful in evaluating his own health, not fighting through an injury to play for his country.
“It’s a trust thing,” Roenicke said. “But (Gallardo) understands what would happen if it flares up again. He probably wouldn’t be our starting pitcher to start the season.”
Gallardo was supposed to pitch in the 2009 WBC but ultimately passed on the opportunity as he recovered from knee surgery. He talked Tuesday about the possibility of facing teammate and 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun, Team USA’s left fielder, for the first time.
“We’ve talked about it a little bit coming into this thing,” Gallardo said. “It’s the first time I get to face him. I’m going to try and keep a straight face when we’re out there. It’ll be a little bit weird but it should be fun.”
Team Mexico opens play in Pool D against Team Italy on Thursday at Salt River Fields before playing Team USA at Chase Field on Friday and Team Canada on Saturday.