Gallardo set to tackle first outing with Seattle

Veteran righty is eager to put 2016 behind him

Gallardo set to tackle first outing with Seattle

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Yovani Gallardo will make his Mariners debut on Monday against the Royals and then one more start Saturday against the Rockies before reporting to Team Mexico for World Baseball Classic workouts.

The veteran right-hander pencils in as one of Seattle's five starters after being acquired by trade from the Orioles for outfielder Seth Smith. He is eager to get the ball rolling with his new team after a rare down season in 2016 in Baltimore.

"I'm pretty excited," the 30-year-old Gallardo said Sunday. "Once games start, it's always a sign that Opening Day is right around the corner."

Gallardo struggled with biceps tendinitis last season while posting a 6-8 record and 5.42 ERA in 23 starts, but was 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 stats the previous year for Texas and was a solid starter for the Brewers for six seasons from 2009-14.

If the Mariners get Gallardo back to his previous form, they'll have added a quality veteran to their rotation. He says the arm feels great so far.

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"I feel good. I've felt good since Day 1 when I started my offseason throwing program," Gallardo said. "I changed my program to incorporate some of the rehab exercises I was doing last year when I was on the disabled list and it's definitely helped me out. Every bullpen and live BP and things, it's felt good and I've recovered quickly. It's definitely a good sign."

Manager Scott Servais has been impressed with Gallardo's professional approach and demeanor and feels a new approach could benefit the veteran.

"Veteran pitchers, as their stuff maybe backs off a little bit as they move on in their career, they tend to be a little too fine," Servais said. "They feel they've got to live right on the edge and it's hard to do that in this game. You've got to be more of in an attack mode; here it is and take your chances. I think he at times has gotten a little away from that, if you look at his numbers."

Gallardo faces a similar situation to Felix Hernandez, needing to change his approach after seven straight seasons of 180-plus innings took its toll.

"When there are guys in scoring position, he's always had the ability throughout his career to buckle down and make pitches and get out of it and limit the damage," Servais said. "But he did have a lot of traffic last year for a number of reasons and one is because in those critical counts, he wasn't as good as maybe he should have been in getting the ball over the plate.

"Just a little different mindset, bringing it to his attention. And his stuff, too, we've talked about how to use it a little differently."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.