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Gallegos living unlikely dream in Mexico Series

Cards reliever has emotional moment with family: 'There was crying'
@LangoschMLB
April 14, 2019

MONTERREY, Mexico -- Giovanny Gallegos has known since late last summer where the Cardinals would be this weekend. What he didn’t know then -- or even as recently as a week ago -- was that he’d be in Monterrey, too. Gallegos, the only Mexican-born player on the Cardinals’ active roster,

MONTERREY, Mexico -- Giovanny Gallegos has known since late last summer where the Cardinals would be this weekend. What he didn’t know then -- or even as recently as a week ago -- was that he’d be in Monterrey, too.

Gallegos, the only Mexican-born player on the Cardinals’ active roster, was among the earliest cuts in Major League Spring Training, which made it seemingly unlikely that he’d be one of the first summoned to help the big league team. But that was the case last Sunday, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

He contributed to the Cardinals’ four-game sweep of the Dodgers that concluded on Thursday, then accompanied the club on its first-ever trip to Mexico. And on Sunday, hours after standing for his own national anthem, Gallegos was summoned in from the ‘pen.

“Obviously I’m really happy, super proud to be here as a Mexican player playing in my homeland,” Gallegos said after facing two batters in the Cardinals’ 9-5 victory over the Reds. “On the personal level, I obviously didn’t want to give up that home run. But I’m really happy for the team win. That’s all that matters.”

That home run was blasted by another fan favorite, Yasiel Puig, on the first pitch Gallegos threw in the eighth. Gallegos rebounded to strike out Eugenio Suarez before manager Mike Shildt replaced him with lefty Andrew Miller.

With the appearance, Gallegos joined Fernando Valenzuela as the only Mexican-born pitchers to appear in a Major League game in Mexico. Valenzuela’s appearance came 23 years ago, just days after Gallegos’ fifth birthday.

“That’s a special moment -- to perform in front of your country like that,” Shildt said. “It was fun to let him walk off and enjoy the ovation.”

Making it particularly special was having his father, mother and sister make the trip to Monterrey from their hometown of Obregon, Mexico. Gallegos spent the weekend with them and presented his father, Humberto, with the ball from his first Major League win, which Gallegos had earned on Thursday.

“There was crying,” Gallegos said of that moment.

Gallegos’ presence at Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey this weekend was well-noted by local media, which asked catcher Yadier Molina and Shildt, among others, for their impressions of a reliever the Cardinals acquired via trade last summer. Gallegos was brought into the interview room alongside Marcell Ozuna both before and after Sunday’s game and received far more questions than the All-Star outfielder.

It had been eight years since Gallegos had last appeared in this ballpark.

“I felt grateful to the organization that they gave me the opportunity to come back to Mexico as a Major League player,” Gallegos said. “I’m going to keep working hard to stay in the big leagues.”

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.