Gallas Back Chasing Boyhood Dream to Play for Tribe
Rob McLamb | On 14, May 2014
Entering the 2014 campaign as a 26-year old Minor League player coming off a major injury, Carolina Mudcats outfielder Anthony Gallas was not sure exactly where he stood. After more than a month into the season, he is currently standing near the top of several offensive categories.
Gallas, a Cleveland-native who signed with the Tribe as a non-drafted free agent in June, 2010, enters Wednesday’s action second overall in the Carolina League with a .349 batting average and is fourth with six home runs in only 33 games—including a three-run blast in Carolina’s, 13-5, drubbing of Lynchburg at Five County Stadium in Zebulon on Tuesday.
It has been a wonderful season so far for Gallas. The success has been a stark contrast to the uncertainty he felt after sitting out most of last year due to injury.
“I guess I did not know where I stood really,” Gallas recalled. “At this time last year, I did not know if I would be on the baseball field really. I have an opportunity to play baseball now; I think the experience has helped me put everything in perspective.”
“I am satisfied but I still want more, Gallas added. “There is more that I feel like I can do. I have high expectations, but I think the big thing is not to be so disappointed after I don’t have a good game. You just have to bounce back.”
The return to the field in 2014 still has its caveat. Gallas was moved to the outfield the spring. Carolina manager Scooter Tucker has been thrilled with what he has seen.
“He has played great outfield for us this year,” Tucker said. “I am extremely pleased with his outfield play. He has worked hard at getting good reads of the ball off the bat, getting a good jump and not being indecisive.”
While Tucker, members of the Cleveland organization and fans of the Mudcats may be surprised at his play in the field, Gallas never had any doubt he could make the switch.
“The coaches always give me grief,” Gallas quipped. “They say “You’re slow” or “You can’t play out there” but I can. I am healthy this year. I think that makes a big difference. That is probably why they might be surprised but I have always felt like I could play out there.”
At 26 years old, Gallas is older than most Class A ballplayers. Tucker thinks that, while there are others the same age in the Carolina League, having that experience is helpful and the second-year manager would also like to see it rub off on his teammates.
“He has been the model teammates for the younger guys,” Tucker said. “For Anthony, of course he has always been a guy that has had a tremendous work ethic and it is certainly beginning to pay off, both physically and from a hitting perspective. He comes in daily and prepares himself to play, both physically and mentally, and he has got a great routine. He is not a real verbal guy, so he leads by example. Hopefully others are watching that.”
For Gallas, his preference is to lead by example.
“It is tough in pro ball to be a leader in the sense of you can’t call everyone up and say, “Hey, let’s get stuff going” because it is different than high school or college where you are all one unit and equal. The centerfielder for the Royals’ farm team, I think he got paid something like 7.5 million dollars, so if he has got that much in his bank and I say “Let’s take the ABs seriously; he is going to say “Go kick rocks.” So it is different in that sense but I do try everyday to have a regimented routine.”
“Leading by example is the only thing you can do,” Gallas added. “Guys notice that. I notice that when I see it and have respect for others when I do. When you have a collective unit doing that then you will have a good team.”
Born and raised in Cleveland, it is a thrill for Gallas to be a member of the Indians organization. Often dreaming about taking the outfield at Progressive Field, Gallas got to watch the Tribe up close in the playoffs last season.
“Manny Ramirez was my favorite and I also liked Jim Thome,” Gallas recalled. “I still call [Progressive Field] ‘The Jake.’ I have this vision in my head, being out in left field, it is sold out and it is the playoffs. That is kind of what I am striving for. I just want that moment. It is what I work for everyday.”
“I got to go the playoff game last year, [Danny] Salazar got to start and he gave me a ticket to the game,” Gallas said. “There was no seat open in that stadium. I got goose bumps just watching the fans erupt. If I have that chance, it would be a little overwhelming.”
As a member of the Tribe, Gallas is no longer just an average fan. He also sees the inner workings of the Indians organization on a daily basis. The benefits of having most of the Minor League system near home have also been advantageous. Gallas has been impressed.
“It is cool,” Gallas said. “I think the coolest thing is, when you’re playing in some of the Minor League organization, some of your friends are there—[Carolina] is the only one above Class A that isn’t in Ohio—so when you play in the system it gives friends and family a chance to stop by and see you play.”
“I think the Indians do a great job of treating us like professionals,” Gallas said. “You know what is expected. You act like a pro on-and-off the field every day and they’ll respect you for that. The Mudcats and the Indians do a good job of working together and putting out a good product for the fans.”
Photo: Carolina Mudcats