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Rangers may slot Gallo No. 2 in lineup

Club likes power behind DeShields at leadoff; Jepsen's spot could be affected by Lincecum; Perez starts Sunday
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The list of Major League power hitters who batted second in the lineup last year includes Giancarlo Stanton, Kris Bryant, Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout.

Joey Gallo could do that for the Rangers this year. Manager Jeff Banister wants to spend a few days looking at a lineup that begins with Delino DeShields in the leadoff spot and Gallo hitting right behind him.

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The list of Major League power hitters who batted second in the lineup last year includes Giancarlo Stanton, Kris Bryant, Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout.

Joey Gallo could do that for the Rangers this year. Manager Jeff Banister wants to spend a few days looking at a lineup that begins with Delino DeShields in the leadoff spot and Gallo hitting right behind him.

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"There are a number of things there," Banister said. "The power factor showing up early on, behind a guy who has been an on-base, stolen-base threat. Teams like to play the shift on Joey ... does Delino eliminate the shift in certain situations? If he steals second, it's kind of hard to play a full, all-out shift when you have a speedster on second."

There are other factors involved. DeShields on first base could mean more fastballs for Gallo. It could also mean the pitcher using a "glide" quick step to the plate rather than a full leg-kick. That would mean less power for the pitcher -- another benefit to Gallo. If the pitcher goes full leg-kick, it gives DeShields a better chance to steal.

Video: DeShields on spring 2018 and hopes for the season

Gallo's athleticism and running ability keep him from clogging the basepaths. DeShields, Gallo and Elvis Andrus give the Rangers speed and athleticism in front of Adrian Beltre.

Nomar Mazara would bat fifth in this proposed lineup. Shin-Soo Choo would bat sixth, giving the Rangers their best on-base guy behind Mazara and setting up the lower part of the order with Robinson Chirinos, Rougned Odor and that day's left fielder.

"There were times last year where our lineup was unbalanced," Banister said. "Choo being one of the highest on-base guys stuck in the middle of it allows that second level of the lineup to be productive. Allows us to balance out the on-base value."

Contract extensions in limbo
The Rangers have explored the possibility of long-term contracts for some of their younger players, including Gallo and Mazara. But it doesn't appear anything will get done in Spring Training, as it has in the past.

"We are always interested in talking to our best young players," general manager Jon Daniels said. "But I don't expect anything at this point."

Spring Training is usually the time that the Rangers explorer long-term contracts with younger players. Odor and Martin Perez were signed to deals in the past that allowed Texas to avoid future arbitration hearings with them.

Jepsen impacted by Lincecum
Veteran reliever Kevin Jepsen has had a strong spring, allowing just one run in 7 1/3 innings. He has given up two hits, not walked a batter and struck out seven.

But his chances of making the Opening Day roster may depend on Tim Lincecum. The Rangers still aren't sure if Lincecum will be ready for Opening Day, although he threw 32 pitches in a live batting practice on Saturday.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Jepsen is a nine-year veteran who has made 448 relief appearances in the big leagues and has had several excellent years as a setup reliever. He did not pitch in the big leagues last year.

"It's just nice to be back to myself," Jepsen said. "When the body feels good and the stuff is there, you become more competitive."

Jepsen knows there are plenty of scouts sitting behind home plate, assessing any pitchers that might become available as teams make their final cuts of Spring Training.

"You know you're out there showcasing for everybody," Jepsen said. "The No. 1 goal is to make this team. It's a comfortable clubhouse, great organization. Ideally, it would be a seamless transition. But I have no control over that. Pitching in the big leagues is the ultimate goal."

Rangers beat
• Left-handed pitcher Joe Palumbo, who had Tommy John surgery on April 26, 2017, has started throwing off the mound. He threw 20 pitches in a bullpen session on Saturday and will increase it next week. Chi Chi Gonzalez and Shawn Tolleson, who are also recovering from Tommy John surgery, are both limited to playing catch on flat ground.

• Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez is in camp as a special instructor and catcher Juan Centeno, who is from Puerto Rico, is eager to meet him. Said Centeno: "I loved watching him play, especially since he is almost my size. His defense was incredible."

• Despite a doubleheader, Andrus and Beltre were given the day off on Saturday as the Rangers keep them on a strict regimen leading up to Opening Day.

Odor's younger brother joined him in the sixth inning of Saturday's early game against the Royals. The younger brother is also named Rougned Odor and signed with the Rangers in 2013. He is 20 and has not made it past the Dominican Summer League team. He played shortstop, while Rougned the elder played second base.

Video: TEX@KC: Broadcast surprised to see two Rougned Odors

Up next
Perez makes his first start of the spring against the Angels at 3:05 p.m. CT Sunday in Surprise. He is recovering from a broken bone in the tip of his right elbow and has been getting his work done on the back fields. He has slated to throw 75 pitches. The game will be broadcast live on MLB.TV and MLB Network.

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.

Texas Rangers, Delino DeShields, Joey Gallo, Kevin Jepsen, Rougned Odor