Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

Rangers News

Guzman returns to lineup; Gallo eyes opener

March 20, 2019

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- First baseman Ronald Guzmán is off the Rangers' injury list and outfielder Joey Gallo is not far behind.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- First baseman Ronald Guzmán is off the Rangers' injury list and outfielder Joey Gallo is not far behind.

Guzman returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing four games with tightness in his left knee. It was the same knee he had surgically repaired in 2013, so that prompted extra caution and concern.

“It’s good,” Guzman said. “At first, I didn’t know what was going on, but it was just tight. We’ve loosened it up and now we just have to stay on top of it.”

Gallo remains sidelined with a strained right groin muscle, but he’s doing full baseball activities, including batting practice. He remains confident that he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

“I haven’t felt it in a couple of days, we just want to make sure we don’t aggravate it,” Gallo said. “If this were the regular season, I would be playing. But this is Spring Training, so there is no reason to blow it out. Take my time while I have a chance and I should be good to go.”

Gallo has just 29 at-bats in Spring Training, but will be able to get extra work in Minor League games on the back fields if needed. He is hoping to play in Sunday’s exhibition game at Nashville and the final two spring games against the Indians on Monday and Tuesday in Arlington.

“Anytime you take time off, you get nervous because baseball is such an everyday skill,” Gallo said. “But I feel good, my swing feels fine. I just want to get at-bats.”

Manager Chris Woodward said he is not concerned Gallo has yet to hit a home run this spring. Woodward noted Gallo has been focused on other things like using the entire field, controlling the strike zone and cutting down on chasing bad pitches.

“He is completely dedicated to what he is working on and he is taking good swings,” Woodward said. “He is staying in the zone. I’m not worried about that. He needed to do certain things to get him ready to prepare for 600 at-bats. Some of his process is right, so now he can go into the season and trust that and ride that out for 600 at-bats. He’s going to hit plenty of home runs.”

Guzman has had a strong spring and the Rangers want to see that continue with minimal disruption. Prior to the injury, Guzman was hitting .323 with a .645 slugging percentage. The goal was to smooth out his swing and make it less complicated without so many moving parts.

“From what I saw last year, things were going everywhere,” Woodward said. “There was no consistency in his movement. What I’ve seen in Spring Training, he has worked really hard at it. He’s committed, he’s synced up. The changes he has to make on a daily basis are minimal whereas last year they were massive.”

Guzman played in 123 games as a rookie last season, finishing with a .235 average with 16 home runs, 58 RBIs and a .416 slugging percentage. There are higher expectations ahead.

“I feel I am in good shape,” Guzman said. “I have the support of my teammates and coaches, and I feel confident and comfortable with my knowledge of the big leagues. Last year I came up blind, but in the offseason I prepared for that. I feel ready to go.”

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.