Athletic Gallo likely to play left field in 2019

January 22nd, 2019

DALLAS -- Joey Gallo still does not have a set position, but at least the Rangers are narrowing down the possibilities.

The Rangers are planning to use Gallo exclusively in the outfield this season after bouncing him between there, third and first base over the past four years. The Rangers haven't identified which outfield position, but manager Chris Woodward said it will most likely be left field, with in right.

The Rangers haven't ruled out the possibility of Gallo playing center, although appears to be the likely candidate for that spot.

"It's something we'll talk about as a staff…but right now, Joey in left makes the most sense," Woodward said.

Plans have a way of changing. Gallo was supposed to be anchored at first base last season, but injuries in the outfield forced the Rangers to improvise. Gallo ended up playing more in the outfield with the emergence of as the Rangers' first baseman.

Gallo's premium athleticism lends to his versatility and ability to play multiple positions. He can even play center field if needed. But there has also been the thought that anchoring Gallo at one position would allow the Rangers to maximize his enormous offensive potential.

"Maybe…I don't know," Gallo said. "I don't put much stock in that. It probably made it tough, me and trying to bounce around and still doing what we're capable of offensively. Staying in the outfield…focusing on that and make sure I feel good offensively, it could help."

Gallo was drafted as a third baseman and came up through the system playing that position. There was a time when Gallo was determined to prove he could be a Major League third baseman.

That is no longer necessary, even though the Rangers have an opening at third base now that Adrian Beltre has retired and Profar has been traded. Over the last couple of years, Gallo and the Rangers have mutually determined that he would serve the club better either in the outfield or at the hot corner.

"It would have been tough for the team because I wouldn't have supplied the defense needed there," Gallo said. "I'm better in the outfield than at third base. I know people think, 'We lost A.B. and traded Profar, put Gallo there.' But I don't play third base. That's over with."

Gallo has the physical ability to play in the outfield. He has a tremendous throwing arm and his athleticism and speed should allow him to cover sufficient ground. It comes back to being able to stay focused on one position, or at least one area, rather than shuttling between the outfield and infield.

But offense is still the priority. Gallo has put up almost identical offensive seasons the past two years. In 2017, he hit .209 with 41 home runs and 80 RBIs in 145 games. He walked 75 times, struck out 196 and posted a .333 on-base percentage and a .537 slugging percentage.

This past season, Gallo played in 148 games and hit .206 with 40 home runs, 92 RBIs, 74 walks and 207 strikeouts. He finished with a .312 on-base percentage and a .498 slugging percentage.

"I am proud of what I have done offensively, but I'm not happy with it," Gallo said. "Hit 40 home runs and driven in a lot of guys, but I can be better. I want to be better. I expect more."