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Runners will be 'scared to death' of Gallo's arm

Outfielder showcasing impressive throws; Guzman likely back Thursday
@JakeCrouseMLB
May 8, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- In the first inning of Tuesday’s 5-4 Rangers loss, Pirates outfielder Starling Marte thought he’d caught Joey Gallo lagging in the outfield, and he dashed for second base to try and stretch a single. The only problem was that Gallo has become one of the best outfield throwers

PITTSBURGH -- In the first inning of Tuesday’s 5-4 Rangers loss, Pirates outfielder Starling Marte thought he’d caught Joey Gallo lagging in the outfield, and he dashed for second base to try and stretch a single.

The only problem was that Gallo has become one of the best outfield throwers this year. He fired to second to nab Marte -- Gallo's fifth outfield assist of the year, second most in the Majors, behind only Leury Garcia (8).

Even more exceptional is the fact that all five have come since April 26, three more than any other player in that span.

“A lot of guys with really good arms … they tend to bait guys into going,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He doesn't do that. He just attacks the baseball. He goes after it, attacks it, gets a good throw.”

Gallo’s career high in outfield assists in a season came last year, when he recorded eight. Woodward recognizes that the opportunities will likely become less frequent, because base runners are “going to be scared to death.” But in tight games when runners tend to get aggressive down the stretch, knowing Gallo can throw with force and accuracy is a big boost of confidence for the team.

“It’s something that could save a game,” Woodward said.

Gallo said he still has some things to learn, though. He showed his arm again in Wednesday's 9-6 win, but it was on an errant throw that rocketed past third base to allow Kevin Newman to score.

“We’re down, so I’m thinking, ‘Hey, we have to make a play, be aggressive,’” Gallo said. "And I threw it away. It cost a run. So I just have to be smarter about when I choose to try to throw somebody out and when I need to eat it."

The skipper said that it’s not just Gallo, though. Nomar Mazara has racked up 22 assists from the outfield in his first three Major League seasons, and Shin-Soo Choo has thrown out as many as 14 runners in a season from the outfield in his long career.

Woodward saw this dynamic play out on the other end of the equation as the Dodgers' third-base coach last season. On June 13 at Dodger Stadium, he sent Matt Kemp home on a hit by Enrique Hernandez off Cole Hamels. Kemp ended up barreling through Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos at the plate, and things got physical.

The reason Kemp had to be so aggressive? Mazara’s throw easily beat him home.

“I didn’t like [Gallo] in left and Maz in right, because they both had really good arms,” Woodward said. “Ended up starting a brawl because I sent a guy on Maz. ... That’s one thing I’ll give our guys a lot of credit for, especially Choo and Maz and Joey: they work on it. They work on their throwing. A lot of big league outfielders don’t do it as much as they should, but our guys do.”

Guzman likely to start Thursday in Houston

Woodward confirmed that Ronald Guzmán (right hamstring strain) will not play another rehab game with Double-A Frisco today. He’s scheduled to fly to Houston tonight before joining the team on Thursday.

Woodward said that even with the possibility of a left-on-left matchup against Wade Miley on Thursday, Guzman “will be in there” to bat for the Rangers.

Rangers beat

• Class A Advanced Down East ended its franchise-record winning streak of 10 games with a tight 4-3 loss to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Tuesday. The club is now 23-9 on the season.

• Tim Dillard pitched six scoreless innings for Triple-A Nashville last night, his second scoreless performance of five or more innings in his past three outings.

Jake Crouse is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. Follow him on Twitter @JakeCrouseMLB.