'Huge' step for Brewers' Gallardo

'Huge' step for Brewers' Gallardo

PEORIA, Ariz. -- At a glance, it was just batting practice. A pitcher on the mound throwing from behind a screen. A half-dozen Minor League hitters behind the cage waiting for their hacks. A dozen more farmhands shagging in the outfield.

For Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo, it was a big deal.

He was the BP pitcher, facing hitters for the first time since a Feb. 19 surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee. Gallardo will have to participate in at least one, possibly two more batting practice sessions before appearing in a Cactus League game, but Wednesday's 10-minute throwing session marked a significant first step.

"I think that today was huge," said Gallardo, who threw his full assortment of pitches and reported no physical setbacks. "First time throwing to hitters, that's a big step."

Gallardo told the Brewers he suffered the injury just before the start of Spring Training, while throwing off a mound at home in Texas.

The team predicted a four-week recovery after surgery, putting Gallardo right on pace. But manager Ned Yost has said that Gallardo would need five or six appearances in games to build to the 90-100 pitch range, meaning it's unlikely that Gallardo will be in the starting rotation on Opening Day.

Gallardo, who turned 22 last month, was penciled into Milwaukee's rotation before he suffered the injury.

"I'm not thinking about that right now," Gallardo said. "The first thing for me is to pitch in a game in Spring Training, and then take it one step at a time. That's what I'm focused on right now.

After Gallardo was finished, right-handed reliever Salomon Torres took the mound for another 10-minute session during which the screen was eventually removed. The Brewers have had Torres on a throwing program since he reported a sore arm last month, and Wednesday marked his final step before pitching in a game.

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Torres declared himself ready to go. He is on track to pitch Saturday, possibly in a Minor League game.

"I didn't treat it as batting practice," Torres said after Wednesday's session. "I didn't hold anything back. I used everything I had in my repertoire.

"I looked pretty good," he added with a laugh. "Though, I am biased."

While Torres scurried off to the training room, left-hander Randy Choate sat glumly at his locker with a jacket covering his left hand, which was immobilized by a splint. The Brewers said Choate had bruised the fourth metacarpal and listed him as day-to-day.

Choate became tangled with outfield prospect Matt LaPorta during a run-down drill Tuesday morning and struck LaPorta's helmet with his hand. He warmed up to pitch the ninth inning against the Giants, but could not properly grip his fastball and had to shut down. X-rays taken at a nearby hospital were negative, and a Brewers hand specialist determined that no further tests were necessary, Choate said.

"I don't think it will keep me out too long," Choate said.

Choate has not allowed a run in any of his four appearances this spring, allowing three hits with one strikeout and no walks. He signed as a free agent in November and is trying to convince the Brewers to carry a second left-hander in the bullpen.

In other injury news, the Brewers scratched left fielder Ryan Braun from Wednesday's lineup against the Padres because of tightness in his right Achilles tendon. It was considered a minor setback.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com, This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.