Gallo homers, aims to be more aggressive

Rangers' top prospect looking to cut down strikeouts

Gallo homers, aims to be more aggressive

PHOENIX -- Joey Gallo has finally gone deep in Spring Training, and it was not a cheap shot against a no-name pitcher.

Gallo, batting with two on and nobody out in the second inning, belted a home run off of Brewers starter Matt Garza in an 8-5 Rangers win Friday afternoon at Maryvale Baseball Park. Gallo entered the game with two singles, six walks and six strikeouts in 11 at-bats.

"I'm trying to be more patient than last year," said Gallo, the Rangers' top prospect. "That's the biggest difference from last year. It wasn't that I couldn't hit, I just wasn't patient. I'm going up there with a different feeling. Early in spring I was trying to see more pitches. Now I'm being more aggressive."

Maximizing monstrous power key for Gallo

Gallo, called to the big leagues when Adrian Beltre went on the disabled list in June, played in 36 games for the Rangers as a rookie last season and hit .204 with six home runs, 14 RBIs and 57 strikeouts in 108 at-bats.

He also struggled in the second half after being sent to Triple-A Round Rock, hitting .195 with 14 home runs, 32 RBIs and 90 strikeouts in 200 at-bats. That's why the Rangers want Gallo to have a quietly productive spring and then go to Round Rock to re-establish his confidence.

"I liked his approach early on," manager Jeff Banister said. "He was seeing pitches and staying patient. He's seeing pitches and getting his timing down. I have not seen the [chasing of pitches]. Today he unlocked it and let the bat go. Eventually he is going to get to the point where he is swinging at pitches he can hit."

Gallo flied out and singled in his last two at-bats. He has not struck out in his last three games.

"I feel really good right now," Gallo said. "I want to get as many at-bats as I can. It's not the same as last year. I'm making the adjustments I need to make and working hard. Even early in spring when the hits weren't coming, I felt like I was having awesome at-bats."

Gallo went deep down the right-field line. The ball landed on the concrete pathway on top of the berm and bounced through a fence, ending up in a practice field beyond. Garza set up the blast by walking the two hitters before Gallo.

"He's got a good swing, you know?" Garza said. "But if I see him again, I'll break his bat. I'm not worried about it. He's a big boy. He hit the hell out of a high fastball on 2-0. So, next time, I'll get him. I'm not worried about it."

Worth noting 

• The Rangers have four Minor League players who were selected to play in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers beginning next Thursday in Mexico and Panama. Outfielder Jairo Beras and catcher Melvin Novoa will play for Nicaragua, pitcher Carlos Fisher will play for Mexico and pitcher Ariel Jurado will pitch for Panama.

• Right-hander Yu Darvish threw 25 pitches off a mound in his latest bullpen session, looking sharp and strong and using all his repertoire. Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of Darvish's Tommy John surgery.

Phil Klein starts for the Rangers on Saturday against the A's, with Colby Lewis and Sam Freeman scheduled to pitch in a B game against the White Sox. Derek Holland pitches at the Angels in Tempe on Sunday and Chi Chi Gonzalez starts against the Indians on Monday in Goodyear.

• Reliever Shawn Tolleson, who has been held back because of lower back stiffmess, is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Saturday.

Ryan Rua turned 26 on Friday.

• Pitcher Alex Claudio got hit with a hard grounder back to the mound in the eighth inning. Claudio got hit directly in the groin area but was able to throw the runner out at first base to end the inning and walk off the mound without assistance.

Claudio hit by liner, gets out

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.