07/09/08 9:41 PM ET
Gallagher gets intro to A's clubhouse
Right-hander will step into rotation Friday against Angels
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
No, this was no welcome to a new high school physical education class -- although it could have been from the sounds of it.
"It feels like the first day of school all over again," Gallagher said with a smile before suiting up in an Oakland uniform for the first time.
Rather, the 22-year-old pitcher was being introduced to his newly gained American League teammates, who watched pitchers Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin exit Oakland on Tuesday in a high-profile trade that sent Gallagher and three Chicago Cubs teammates to the Bay Area.
Gallagher arrived in Oakland around 1 p.m. on Wednesday before dropping his few things off at a hotel and heading to McAfee Coliseum to get a taste of his new home away from home.
"I got off the plane and was surprised because I heard it gets cool around here," he said in the midst of rare 90-plus degree Oakland weather. "But I just wanted to get here and meet as many people as possible right away."
Jerry Blevins, recalled from Triple-A Sacramento on Friday, said Gallagher will have no trouble fitting in with an A's clubhouse that is widely regarded as relaxed and fun. The two pitchers roomed together while playing with the Cubs' Class A Peoria Chiefs.
"He'll fit in great here," Blevins said. "He's a very outgoing guy who likes to have fun, so he'll definitely make a great addition here. I'm more reserved, but it's good because we balance each other out."
Blevins isn't the only A's player who's played a role in Gallagher's past, though. Catcher Rob Bowen, who came to Oakland with Blevins in exchange for Jason Kendall last year, also played with Gallagher in Chicago.
"I know how it is to get traded," Blevins said, "so I know how comfortable it is to have a familiar face around."
Gallagher, a former 12th-round Cubs pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, arguably represents the centerpiece of the six-player deal from an Oakland standpoint. After the move was made Tuesday, general manager Billy Beane expressed the significance of receiving the right-handed pitcher in the trade. In fact, the deal may have been erased from the table had the Cubs not included Gallagher.
"That's a great compliment," the young player said. "It shows they really wanted me."
Gallagher, who was given Tye Waller's permission to wear No. 36 -- the A's first-base coach's old number and the only number Gallagher has worn since it was given to him by his father as a young boy -- will be making his first start in the squeaky clean white cleats on Friday. Taking the rotation spot of a pitcher named Rich Harden is quite the task, but Gallagher knows that no matter the situation he's placed in, "It's still the game of baseball."
"When I found out about the trade, a lot of the guys in Chicago were telling me to go out there and keep doing what I've been doing," he said. "If I go in there and try to do too much, I run the risk of getting hurt."
Gallagher began the season at Triple-A Iowa and was 2-2 with a 3.10 ERA in five starts before he was promoted to Chicago on May 3. He was 3-4 with a 4.45 ERA in 12 games, 10 starts, with the Cubs this year after posting an 8.59 ERA in eight relief appearances in his Major League debut last year.
"Last year was a valuable learning experience," he said. "It gave me the chance to work out the kinks and get all the nerves out of the way.
"I believe I still have a lot more time to get better at this game. I'm learning what I have to do to become the complete package as a pitcher."
Not just any pitcher, though. Gallagher had been sitting on a teeter-totter in Chicago, going back and forth from the bullpen to the starting role, so he expressed a great sense of relief knowing he'll be getting the ball every five days.
"It definitely gives me a sense of security," he said. "I feel like I don't have to put as much pressure on myself, and I'll be able to get into a good routine."
Tossing from the mound in the confines of pitcher-friendly McAfee Coliseum is another aspect of coming to Oakland about which he expressed excitement.
"I've heard good things about pitching here," he said with a sly smile. "Tonight will be my first night out on the field, so I'll let you know tomorrow what I think."
"Tomorrow" represents Gallagher's second day in Oakland. And the second day of school was always better than the first, right?
Jane Lee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.