Back at third, Gallo shows off glove, arm

Back at third, Gallo shows off glove, arm

ARLINGTON -- Joey Gallo had a throwing error at third base during the Rangers' 10-9 win over the Angels on Friday night. He also had three breathtaking defensive gems in his first game taking over for Adrian Beltre as the Rangers' everyday third baseman.

Gallo made a spectacular diving stop to his right on Justin Upton's first-inning smash, handled C.J. Cron's one-hop rocket -- 108-mph exit velocity -- off his chest in the fifth and knocked down Mike Trout's crisp grounder to his left to get a key forceout in the ninth.

The three plays had a common denominator: They all came with at least two runners on base. If Gallo doesn't make one of those plays, the Angels have the potential for a game-breaking inning.

Not bad for a guy who commutes defensively between first, third and left field.

"It's not easy," Gallo said. "To be honest, it's really tough playing different positions. But whatever I'm asked to do, I'm going to do to the best of my ability. I was pretty happy with the way I played. I want to do better, you can always do better. But for the first game, it wasn't too bad."

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said Gallo's performance points to a few different things.

"One, he is comfortable playing at the Major League level," Banister said. "There is comfort and confidence. And it's the athleticism. He has obviously played more third base than any other position, period. But he is into it. He is not allowing moving around to take away from the focus of the position he is playing. In the outfield, he is very similar. His focus has really been a premium."

Gallo has started 58 games at third base, most of them in the first two months of the season while Beltre was sidelined with a strained right calf. He has also started 34 games at first base and 17 in left field. Third base is his for the rest of this season while Beltre is out with a strained left hamstring.

Banister admitted the Rangers would like to anchor Gallo at one position next season.

"That's a fair statement," Banister said.

Third base is Gallo's favorite position, but Beltre is signed for one more season. Beltre could move to designated hitter, but that would be a tough sell. Left field has a lot of moving parts for the Rangers and also takes its toll on players. Gallo can play defense and is a terrific athlete, but his primary asset is offensive power. The Rangers don't want anything to subtract from that.

First base could be the target, especially since Mike Napoli is a free agent.

"Next year will be next year," Gallo said. "I'll worry about it then. But I would love to be able to play one spot and not bounce around. It's tough to play all these positions and play it at a high level. But that's next year. Wherever I go play, I'm going to go out there and play it to the best of my ability."

He did that Friday night.

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.