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Gallo bumped to No. 2 in Opening Day lineup

Banister reveals Thursday's starting nine; Diekman raising money for Gut It Out Foundation
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister has revealed his Opening Day lineup and it will include first baseman Joey Gallo in the No. 2 spot.

The Rangers open the season at 2:35 p.m. CT Thursday against the Astros. Their lineup against right-hander Justin Verlander is expected to be:

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Jeff Banister has revealed his Opening Day lineup and it will include first baseman Joey Gallo in the No. 2 spot.

The Rangers open the season at 2:35 p.m. CT Thursday against the Astros. Their lineup against right-hander Justin Verlander is expected to be:

1. Delino DeShields, CF
2. Gallo, 1B
3. Elvis Andrus, SS
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Nomar Mazara, RF
6. Shin-Soo Choo, DH
7. Robinson Chirinos, C
8. Rougned Odor, 2B
9. Ryan Rua, LF

Cole Hamels will be pitching, but most notable about the Rangers' new-look lineup is Gallo moving into the No. 2 spot. Even though Gallo profiles as a power hitter in the middle of the order, Banister likes his athleticism, baserunning and improved on-base percentage at No. 2 behind DeShields and ahead of Andrus.

"The look with Delino, Joey and Elvis isn't something that we have seen in the past," Banister said. "Their athleticism and the fact that they run the bases well will create issues with the defense and the pitcher."

Mazara led the Rangers with 101 RBIs last season and Banister said he seems to thrive in those situations. Choo gives the Rangers an on-base guy to set up the bottom half of the order.

"When you look at teams that were in postseason the last few years, their guys in the seventh, eighth and ninth spot outperformed the rest of the league," Banister said. "We talk about the ability to stretch out the lineup, it's an effort to put together the best run-scoring offense up and down the lineup we possibly can."

Diekman gutting out every strikeout
Rangers pitcher Jake Diekman is donating $100 for every strikeout he records this season to support the Gut It Out Foundation. That is the organization he and his wife, Amanda, founded last year to raise awareness for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's Disease and colitis. It could get expensive if Diekman has a big year.

"I will take that very much," Diekman said. "We are just trying to raise awareness. There are those who have had Crohn's or colitis and don't feel comfortable talking about it. If we raise the awareness and the communication, that will be a good thing."

Video: CIN@TEX: Diekman discusses his goals for the season

Diekman is back to full strength after missing five months last season while undergoing three procedures to relieve the symptoms of ulcerative colitis. He was on the disabled list for Opening Day. Not this year.

"I can't wait for the flyover," Diekman said. "There is a difference. When you are on the disabled list, you don't feel really part of the team. I'm looking forward to going to war with these guys."

Injury updates: Lincecum, Barnette, Ragans
• Pitcher Tim Lincecum is hoping to resume his throwing program with a baseball by playing catch on Friday. Lincecum has been unable to throw a baseball since March 20 because of a blister on his right middle finger. Lincecum has been throwing a softer Plyo ball to keep his arm going while the blister heals.

Once Lincecum starts throwing again, the goal will be to work him into game action with a medical rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Frisco. Lincecum is hoping to be an option for the Rangers at the beginning of May.

Martin Perez and Tony Barnette are both scheduled to pitch in an intrasquad game for Triple-A Round Rock on Friday. Perez is scheduled to throw 90-plus pitches in anticipation of starting against the Athletics on April 5. Barnette's next step would be a rehab assignment with Frisco.

• Left-handed pitcher Cole Ragans, who was the Rangers' No. 1 Draft pick in 2016, underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on Wednesday in Arlington. His recovery time is expected to be 12-14 months.

Rangers beat
• The Rangers are expected to have six players under 30 years old in their Opening Day lineup for the first time since having seven in 2010. The exceptions are Beltre, Chirinos and Choo.

• Andrus is making his 10th straight Opening Day start for the Rangers. That's one short of the club record held by Ivan Rodriguez (1992-2002) and Michael Young (2002-12).

• Beltre is 38 years and 356 days old on Opening Day. He is the second-oldest position player to be in the Rangers' lineup in club history. The only one older was Kenny Lofton, who was 39 when he started for the Rangers in center in 2007.

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.

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