SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Joey Gallo has had a quiet Spring Training."Good," Gallo said. "It's good to be boring. Means I'm doing something right."Gallo will not be boring during the regular season. Neither will Nomar Mazara. They may have had a quiet spring, but that could be a portent of big
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Joey Gallo has had a quiet Spring Training.
"Good," Gallo said. "It's good to be boring. Means I'm doing something right."
Gallo will not be boring during the regular season. Neither will Nomar Mazara. They may have had a quiet spring, but that could be a portent of big things to come. The Rangers' two power prodigies have the experience and growing confidence that should put them in position to carry the offense to a championship level.
"Not yet … but we will," Mazara said.
"They are ready to go, man," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "They are huge, they are going to be in the middle of the lineup. They are ready for that challenge, no doubt. I think they are starting to feel that way, too. That's a great feeling they have: I earned the right to be here. I deserve to be here. I can do some damage. I can help the team. That's where they are right now. I hope they carry that through the season and have a great year."
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Gallo's previous springs have been full of drama. There have been prodigious home runs and plenty of strikeouts, much talk of his tremendous potential and deep concerns if he would ever fulfill high expectations.
Gallo seemed to put all of that to rest last year when he unexpectedly made the team out of Spring Training, overcame a slow start and gradually showed what he can do in a Major League lineup.
The final numbers show Gallo hit .209 with 41 home runs, 80 RBIs and a .537 slugging percentage. But the second half showed his improvement, as he raised his OPS from .821 before the All-Star break to .929 afterward, the 13th highest in the American League for the second half.
"I think I just got hot there for a while," Gallo said. "I'm pretty streaky, but I figured out a couple of things with my swing and felt good and went with it. For 2-3 weeks I was unbelievable. That definitely helped out. I was proud, it was the first full season I played and I started getting tired toward the end of the stretch. But I was able to fight to the end, whereas I usually fade off because I get tired and lose focus. I was able to stick with it and actually improve. That was huge for me."
Gallo spent last season rotating between first, third and left field. This year the Rangers are anchoring him at first base. The job was his coming into camp and there were no worries about having it taken away.
"If I didn't have that full season and not played well, it would be a completely different situation," Gallo said. "It's nice to know that the team trusts you now and they are going to let you play. It's obviously a lot easier in the spring. I can be myself and I can work on the things I feel I need to work on."
Mazara has the same feeling. No more shuttling between left and right field. He is anchored in right field and the Rangers expect that to help relax a player who is still just 22 years old. He led the Rangers with 101 RBIs -- hitting .301 with runners in scoring position -- and breaking the century mark only adds to his serene confidence.
"A little more comfortable," Mazara said. "I know I have a better plan. I know the situation better, when I go to the batter's box I know what I want to do. I simplify my plan, don't try too much and stick to the plan. I worked so hard in the offseason and everything is paying off. The feeling I have now I am working to keep the whole season."
Both players have the talent. Add confidence to the mix and they both could take off this season.
"These guys are at the point of their career where they can just go out, relax and play," manager Jeff Banister said. "I don't put numbers on it but if they continue to improve and have the mindset of improving, they will be a plus for us."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.