Less is more for Gallagher
Diet and conditioning paying dividends for right-hander
CHICAGO -- A newly-svelte Sean Gallagher isn't getting his own weight-loss commercial just yet ("I lost 40 pounds and now I'm a Chicago Cub!"), but he is the latest in a string of North Siders to show that less is more, at least around the midsection.
Gallagher, who notched his first Major League win Friday, said an offseason training regimen has helped him slim down from 250 pounds to 210. Gallagher, listed at 235 in the team guide, followed the same diet preached by closer Kerry Wood, who came back last year as a streamlined version of Kid K, losing around 35 pounds during an extended rehab stint in Arizona.
Last season, catcher Geovany Soto said he lost 20 pounds, also following the Kerry Workout Plan, and wound up as Pacific Coast League MVP and a playoff starter behind the plate. Now, Soto's a National League Rookie of the Year candidate and a potential All-Star.
Right-hander Ryan Dempster and third baseman Aramis Ramirez also look trimmer this season for the not-so-schlubby Cubbies. The days of players living on pregame McDonald's and Taco Bell are apparently ending.
For Gallagher, a 12th-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft who morphed into a legitimate prospect, it was a matter of showing he was serious about taking the next step. He got added to the 40-man roster last summer and made three separate appearances with the Cubs. It was a talk with Wood late last season that spurred him on.
"I needed to make a drastic change," Gallagher said. "This offseason, I said, 'If I'm going to do this, I've got to make a change.' I talked to Woody about it, went to Arizona and made the change, and it's been unbelievable."
Gallagher pitched mostly at Double-A and Triple-A last season, while appearing in eight games with the Cubs. When he went to the Arizona Fall League, he started on his new program. The Minor League lifestyle doesn't make it easy to cut weight, with its fatty clubhouse food and late-night trips to fast-food drive-thrus.
"It's hard," to eat right in the Minors, he said. "But me and my roommate [in Iowa] Josh Kroeger, we were watching TV and saw this [infomercial on the] Nu-Wave Oven, so we bought it. We would cook up six, seven chicken breasts, grill them up, and put them in Ziploc bags and take them to the park. It worked out a lot easier because you can control what you're taking in."
Gallagher, a high-energy guy, likes his stamina. His stuff looks good, too, and he doesn't subscribe to Scott Eyre's old motto, "No gut, no gas."
"He needed to control stuff off the field," Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "He has good work habits now and he's shown he can repeat his delivery better. But that's just one game, and now we'll judge going from there."
But you can forgive the 22-year-old if he cheated a bit Friday night. Gallagher said he and his father shared a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant in the Near West Side. His dad, Paul, skipped a work conference to catch his second start.
"It took me about 15-20 minutes to get out of the clubhouse," Gallagher said. "When I saw him, I looked at him for a second and the tears started going."
Jon Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.