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Defensive metrics like Gallo in center

MVP candidate could be long-term fill-in for DeShields
@Sullivan_Ranger
May 21, 2019

ARLINGTON -- The early returns on Joey Gallo as a center fielder thave been positive, according to advanced defensive metrics. It is an early sample after just 17 starts, but Gallo has been on the positive side in Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating. More important is what manager

ARLINGTON -- The early returns on Joey Gallo as a center fielder thave been positive, according to advanced defensive metrics. It is an early sample after just 17 starts, but Gallo has been on the positive side in Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating.

More important is what manager Chris Woodward is seeing from Gallo.

“Really good,” Woodward said. “From the eye standpoint, it has been good. He wants to get jumps on balls, he is talking to the [coaches] about positioning and how to optimize. When you see him out there, you feel like he can catch everything because he is so big. He just reaches out for everything. And the arm is such a huge weapon. Any ball in center field, you have a chance to throw them out at third or home. Typically, in center field, you don’t have that.”

Gallo’s ability to play center is crucial for the Rangers, with Delino DeShields' demotion to Triple-A Nashville and unlikely to make a quick return. Right now, Woodward is trying to rotate five players -- Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Hunter Pence, Willie Calhoun and Shin-Soo Choo -- through three outfield spots and designated hitter.

Gallo is the only one who has the athletic ability to play center field. The Rangers feel that he can handle it, but there is also the concern about the position being physically taxing on a big man. Woodward said he and Rangers strength and conditioning coach Jose Vazquez are in constant communication on the subject.

“If we are forced to go there, can he handle it, not only from an ability standpoint, but a physical standpoint?” Woodward said. “He’s a big body. Just seeing if it’s showing up more taxing or if we just assume that. I’m trying to stay on top of it, so it doesn’t turn out to be something that hurts him.”

Gallo likes the position because it’s another way to refute the stereotypes about him.

“Playing center field,” Gallo said with a smile. “Who would have thought back home five years ago, I would be starting in center field in the big leagues? No chance.”

Woodward on Forsythe: 'League was dumb'

Woodward is relishing the way that Logan Forsythe is performing as the Rangers' utility player. Woodward recommended Forsythe to general manager Jon Daniels after being with him the past two years as a coach with the Dodgers.

Forsythe was a free agent and unsigned going into Spring Training, and he was looking for a Major League contract. The Rangers signed him to a Minor League deal on Feb. 26, the date of their fourth Cactus League game of the spring.

“We were just fortunate the rest of the league was dumb,” Woodward said. They honestly didn’t know what they had. I knew the guy. I knew what he was capable of. The swing was the only thing that scared me. I just said, 'Dig into that. If you can get that right, everything else is gold.'”

Rangers beat:

• Shortstop Elvis Andrus, on the injured list with a strained right hamstring, began a rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on Tuesday and was 0-for-3 as its designated hitter against Midland. Andrus is expected to play again on Wednesday, then join the Rangers for their trip to Anaheim. He is expected to be activated on Saturday.

• Right-hander Hans Crouse, the Rangers' No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, has been transferred back to Class A Hickory from extended spring training. Crouse has made seven starts at Hickory, but he was transferred to extended spring training to get a break and manage his innings.

• Former Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton turned 38 on Tuesday.

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.