As Beltre nears return, Gallo starts to impress

As Beltre nears return, Gallo starts to impress

ARLINGTON -- Adrian Beltre is day to day with a tight right calf muscle, and that means Joey Gallo's status is questionable, too. Beltre could return this week, which might mean Gallo goes back to Triple-A Round Rock so he can get consistent playing time.

But Gallo is not going without a fight. He hit a three-run home run and a two-run single in Sunday's 8-1 win over the A's.

Gallo is also not fretting about what might happen when Beltre returns.

"I haven't heard anything," Gallo said. "I don't have any noise in my head. I don't know anything. I just show up, play the game and go home."

That's what the Rangers want to hear. That's what manager Jeff Banister told Gallo during their offseason discussions -- just enjoy playing baseball.

Gallo talks about his big game

"I am starting to get to know the guys a little more and the team a little more, feeling more comfortable," Gallo said. "Coming from Spring Training straight to here, you kind of keep that mojo and chemistry going. I have taken a lot of pressure off myself and allowed myself to be human a little bit … fail and make mistakes, come back at it the next day."

Both of Gallo's hits were significant. The home run was his first against a left-handed pitcher in the Majors since taking Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw deep on June 17, 2015.

Gallo's three-run smash

Gallo's single was his first Major League hit on an 0-2 count. Entering Sunday, Gallo was 0-for-12 in his young career on 0-2 pitches, and he was 0-for-42 on at-bats that started as an 0-2 count, including those that were extended further.

"It was nice to get a two-strike single," Gallo said. "One out, bases loaded, I was just trying to put the ball in play, make something happen. For me, when I get to two strikes, I'm not panicking. Before, I would panic. Get two strikes and think, 'You can't strike out,' and I would strike out. Now, it's more of an approach, you've got two strikes, you still have one more strike."

After six games, Gallo is 4-for-20 with two home runs, seven RBIs, three walks and nine strikeouts. He also has given the Rangers something to think about with Beltre getting ready to return. Beltre is the Rangers' starting third baseman, but there are other ways to insert Gallo into the lineup.

"I think Joey has always believed in his own abilities," Banister said. "I think his confidence, once we had our conversation and he understood how we feel about him, kind of freed him up to progress through Spring Training. Put a plan in play, trust it and then, once he got confident in the box, the ability to use his hands and see pitches.

"As the season started, I think the competitive at-bats continued to build upon themselves, you kind of see some of this coming."

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.