SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers' third baseman of the future is now their first baseman of the present, and Joey Gallo loves the idea.
"That's great," Gallo said. "I like first base a lot. I think I can help the team defensively and our infield a lot. First base is a fun position for me."
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Gallo's days of bouncing around the field appear to be over after hitting 41 home runs and driving in 80 runs in his first full season. The Rangers have deemed his offense too important to be distracted by multiple defensive assignments.
"Right now [offensive production importance], that's above the line," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "But Joey is athletic enough to be as good of defensive first baseman as there is in baseball."
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Last year, Gallo started 66 games at third base out of necessity because of Adrián Beltré's injuries. He also made 52 starts at first base and 17 in left field.
The outfield is, well, out. Gallo is a terrific athlete, but the Rangers don't need his 6-foot-5, 250-pound body crashing into walls or racing to the deepest recesses of left-center field at Globe Life Park.
"The only thing I love to do in the outfield is throw," Gallo said. "Letting it go as hard as you can. At first base, you don't get to throw as hard."
Third base is Gallo's favorite position, but he recognizes that it's not the best fit right now.
"Third base has always been my love," Gallo said. "I came up playing that position. But when you are 6-5, 250, it's hard to play third base 180 days straight. Obviously, we do have a pretty good third baseman right now. I will play wherever it's best for me and the team, and right now it is first base."
That may be different in the future, considering Beltre, who turns 39 in April, can be a free agent after this season. He could also just as easily retire after 21 years in the Majors.
The Rangers have Ronald Guzmán as their first baseman at Triple-A Round Rock, and he is the No. 3 prospect in the system, according to MLB Pipeline. The Rangers don't have a true third baseman on their Top 30 Prospects list. Veteran third baseman Trevor Plouffe was brought in on a Minor League contract for depth, and utility infielders Jurickson Profar, Hanser Alberto and Drew Robinson have played the hot corner when needed.
Gallo is in a situation similar to that of Mark Teixeira, who was the fifth-overall pick in the 2001 Draft out of Georgia Tech. Teixeira was drafted as a third baseman, and played there, first base and the outfield as a rookie in 2003. The following season, Teixeira was anchored at first base in an outstanding infield that included second baseman Alfonso Soriano, shortstop Michael Young and third baseman Hank Blalock.
Teixeira took off, hitting 38 home runs and driving in 112 runs. Teixeira also grew into a first baseman's body and never played third again. Banister said that is not a concern because Gallo is more athletic than Teixeira.
Banister did acknowledge the possibility that Gallo could be needed at third base at some point in the future.
"That always has to be a part of process of thinking," Banister said. "But right now, and the immediate prospect of what the team is, it's first base. Joey has an athletic body. I think he's athletic enough to go back [to third], but right now we are focused on first base."