Gallagher driven to win spot in Padres' rotation

BY foxsports • February 22, 2010

San Diego Padres pitcher Sean Gallagher was career-minded this offseason.

First he traveled to Venezuela for winter ball to get his left knee back in pitching shape. Then he headed to Peoria to get his whole body in top shape.

It's all part of Gallagher's plan to have the best possible chance as he competes for one of two available spots in the Padres' starting rotation. One of three pitchers acquired in a July trade that sent outfielder Scott Hairston to Oakland, Gallagher is expected to compete with Clayton Richard, Mat Latos, Wade LeBlanc, Tim Stauffer and several other pitchers for a starting job.

``My career has got to come first,'' Gallagher said. ``This year is a big year for me.''

The Padres weren't sure what kind of shape Gallagher would be in when he arrived in late July. The player to be named later in a July 5 deal - Hairston has since been reacquired by the Padres - Gallagher had been on the disabled list with Triple-A Sacramento and rehabbing a strained left knee in an experimental physical therapy program.

Shortly after he arrived, however, the platelet-rich plasma therapy Gallagher was receiving had him strong enough to throw several bullpen sessions. By September, Gallagher returned to the mound and pitched 5 1-3 scoreless innings over eight relief appearances for the Padres.

Despite the rust, Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley could see that Gallagher, 24, had talent.

``He had a very good delivery, four quality pitches that he had command of, and a really good feel for off-speed stuff,'' Balsley said. ``That's a talent in itself. He has a terrific arm.''

Gallagher just needed to assure himself that his knee, which he hurt June 5 while fielding a grounder, was ready to handle 80-100 pitch outings. The Padres arranged for Gallagher to spend October and November pitching for Navagantes del Magallanes and he made six starts, finishing with a 5.33 ERA. Though he wanted better results, Gallagher wasn't about to push his luck.

``I wanted to get down there and build up the stamina, build up the endurance,'' Gallagher said. ``If it tired out, I wanted to make sure it would hold up over the course of a full game. I had no problems whatsoever.''

Gallagher had been expected to compete for a job in Oakland's wide-open 2009 rotation. But he fell out of favor quickly and began the season at Sacramento.

``I was very disappointed in myself with how things played out,'' Gallagher said. ``I knew going to training camp with Oakland I had an opportunity. I wasn't right and when I was right and started to feel well the injury happened. That kind of put me back down in my place again.

``My biggest priority first was to get healthy and make sure I could pitch on my knee, and then it's just getting back into the best shape I possibly could.''

share story