Gallo focused on taking next step in 2017

Gallo focused on taking next step in 2017

DALLAS -- Joey Gallo knows he didn't hit well in his limited opportunities for the Rangers in 2016.

Gallo also knows as long as Adrian Beltre is healthy and on the roster, he not going to be playing third base for the Rangers. He also knows his chances of playing first base for the club could hinge on the recent signing of Josh Hamilton to a Minor League deal and the club potentially adding another first baseman on the free-agent market.

Gallo is aware of all of those things, but the 23-year-old isn't worrying about any of that. That's because Gallo, who was at one of the club's winter caravan stops Wednesday night, can't control any of those variables.

That's why he's spent this offseason focusing on the only thing he can, making sure he's in the best possible position to help the Rangers this season.

"I try not to pay too much attention to outside things," said Gallo. "That's one thing I'm trying to get better at, is just go on with my life, do my own thing, and things will work out the way they do. Obviously it depends on the team. If they have an All-Star lineup, they're not just going to throw me out there. I just want to move up."

Gallo went to Venezuela to play winter ball after the regular season ended. That lasted just three games though, as Gallo strained his left hamstring and returned to the United States to have treatment after going 2-for-6 with a home run and five RBIs.

Gallo's solo homer

He's healthy now and focused on Spring Training. He's so focused he turned down a chance to play for Italy in the World Baseball Classic. He said it's more important to get in Spring Training at-bats than play in the Classic.

Gallo spent the majority of his offseason in Las Vegas, where assistant hitting coach Justin Mashore was a frequent visitor.

"He'd come out to Vegas and I'd come here," Gallo said. "I was just working on getting my swing back. I had it going pretty well the first half and then I just kind of lost it. I was worried about strikeouts and just trying to put the ball in play and my swing started to change. I've been with Mash since rookie ball, and he can kind of see when I'm doing things the right way for me. You can have an aggressive swing and use that to your benefit and don't be timid about it. I just need to be ready to hit and try to do damage."

That's his mindset regardless of where he plays this season.

"Obviously I'd love to start the season in the big leagues," he said. "I had a good year in Triple-A. My last month I struggled a little bit, which makes the year look not as good. But I played really well all year. Looking back at it, the numbers and stuff, I did pretty good. The Triple-A at-bats and the Major League at-bats are completely different. The atmosphere is different. To me, to be a Major League player you have to learn to be a Major League player. That's one thing I hope I get to do this year."

Gallo finished his Triple-A season with Round Rock with a .240 average, 25 homers and 66 RBIs. He saw limited action with the Rangers, getting just one hit in 25 at-bats and striking out 19 times.

While Gallo would rather be with the Rangers than in the Minors, he said he found out how tough it is to be a part-time player in the Majors, because you never know when your next at-bat is going to come.

"For me, I'm big into getting into a rhythm, getting some timing," he said. "I'm streaky. I didn't really have a chance. I didn't have time to make that adjustment. I'd play a game, start feeling better and then not play for a week and do it all over again. It's tough being a utility guy. I noticed that last year. It's definitely a skill. I'd like to have more consistent at-bats and make my adjustments and go from there."

Anthony Andro is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.