SEATTLE -- The Rangers got only two hits against Mariners left-hander James Paxton in eight innings Saturday night, and they didn't have any hits going into the sixth inning of the 5-0 loss. That changed with a bullet of a double into right field off the bat of Joey Gallo.The
SEATTLE -- The Rangers got only two hits against Mariners left-hander James Paxton in eight innings Saturday night, and they didn't have any hits going into the sixth inning of the 5-0 loss. That changed with a bullet of a double into right field off the bat of Joey Gallo.
The Rangers have been missing third baseman Adrian Beltre, whose nagging calf strain has him on the disabled list for what looks like a few more weeks at least, but they've been covered at the hot corner because of Gallo.
Things are looking a lot more big league for the hulking 23-year-old power-hitter, who was 1-for-25 with 19 strikeouts in 17 Major League games in 2016. This season, he has started all 12 games for Texas, and has fared well, with two home runs, nine RBIs and six walks. He's also stolen two bases, and handled himself more than competently at third base. Sunday he had a rough day in the 8-7 loss to the Mariners, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
The facet of Gallo's game that has impressed the Rangers the most has been the quality of his at-bats, which Rangers manager Jeff Banister referred to as "extremely competitive."
Banister said Gallo has not been chasing bad pitches nearly as often as he did in the past, and Gallo, whom the Rangers selected with the 39th overall pick in the 2012 Draft, says he knows why.
"Patience is a big key for me," Gallo said. "Knowing that some pitchers aren't going to throw strikes just because that's what they're supposed to do. So, I go up there with a plan. It's a different approach for a power hitter where it's more about looking for a spot and waiting for a pitch to get there, so I'm just trusting that more than last year, when I didn't get to play much so I'd try to come in and make something happen in three at-bats.
"It's a little better when you have an extended period of time to actually work on an approach and a plan. It definitely helps a lot."
Gallo can't predict Beltre's return, but he said he won't think about how his playing time might be altered when that happens.
"Right now, I'm playing," Gallo said. "It's more comfortable knowing I'm in there each day. But the end of the day I really don't know if I'll be here regardless of how I play. So, I'll just try to stick with the approach."
Gallo said the general experience of being in a lineup every day is invaluable.
"When you first get here, it's all adrenaline, nerves," Gallo said. "You work for this your whole life, and then you're here, and you want to make the most out of it. So sometimes you try to do too much, and sometimes your emotions get carried away.
"But seeing Major League pitching is the biggest key for me. You don't face Felix Hernandez in the Minor Leagues. You face him here."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB.