The parking lot reserved for VIPs and players at Tempe Diablo Stadium is just behind the right-field wall, right about where Joey Gallo dumped his second homer of the spring.
No car appeared to be harmed, though a suped-up Jeep nearly got it, and the shot probably was about a 400-footer. Only a 400-footer.
Gallo said that he hit it better than the top-spin shot against Milwaukee, but has hit other balls better.
“But I’ll take it,” he said after the Texas Rangers’ 7-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Thoughts? Here are The Surprise Five.
1. Gallo has connected for home runs in consecutive starts and is heating up after what he said was a miserable 2015.
Aside from his time at Double A Frisco and his first couple weeks with the Rangers, it’s hard to argue with him.
Despite the down year, he remains a highly regarded prospect, though there is a fairly large contingent that thinks he’ll be a bust. Overheard in the press box last week was someone saying that Gallo’s stock is really falling.
In a world that demands instant satisfaction, sure. I guess. But the thing that has always gotten me about evaluations is, in many instances, once a player goes in the toilet, he’s done and can’t possibly get better.
The word after the Rangers signed Ian Desmond is that he’s a player on the decline, an argue the stats support. But the Rangers don’t believe that. They look at his second half and see a quality player who got better and who has a track record of success.
Part of the relatively small track record Gallo has is that he performs better when he repeats a level. He’ll be back at Triple A to start this season, and I’m betting will be much better than he was while batting .195 for Round Rock last year.
As he said last week, it’ll be hard to do much worse. But he also said that he knows he will be a “good player in the major leagues.”
Some, though, have already made up their minds.
2. Gallo’s towering homer backed Derek Holland, who worked four innings and became the first member of the Rangers’ rotation to log three Cactus League starts.
He had already faced Kansas City and Oakland, and on Sunday got to face most of the Angels’ regulars. Meanwhile, Cole Hamels, Colby Lewis and Martin Perez have worked at least one B game or minor-league game.
Lewis and Perez have both avoided facing American League West foes, while Holland has faced two of them. He will is scheduled to face the Royals for a second time Friday in San Antonio.
The reason? Manager Jeff Banister said that the scheduled hasn’t allowed for Holland to pitch anywhere else — minor-league games start Monday — and the Rangers want Holland to face quality hitters after missing most of the past two seasons.
“I think for Derek to get in and face the A hitters is important,” Banister said. “To get that feel back. To log the innings. Get that competitive edge back.”
Holland said he prefers the A games because minor-leaguers are often free-swinging and don’t allow him to work on things he needs to have settled for the regular season.
3. Drew Stubbs isn’t going to wow anyone with his bat, though he can run well enough to beat out slow rollers and occasionally shows some pop. If he makes the Opening Day roster, it’ll be because of his defense.
He flashed is glove work Sunday, fielding an Andrelton Simmons liner toward the line in left field and then making a strong throw to second base to easily get Simmons as he tried for a double.
Stubbs has played all three outfield spots in the past week, and his ability to play center field and do so better than Delino DeShields will work in his favor when the Opening Day roster is hashed out.
James Jones is also in the hunt. He shares speed and good defense with Stubbs, but could have a leg up because he bats left-handed and could spell DeShields against a tough right-hander. Jones has also hit two homers this spring.
These are the type of roster decisions that will have beat writers wringing their hands during the final week of camp, along with the last man in the bullpen and the No. 5 starter.
We’re desperate for news.
.333 Batting average this spring for James Jones in 21 at-bats
4. Is anybody going to San Antone? The Rangers are headed there Friday and Saturday for the fourth Big League Weekend, an exercise that was fun the first year but has steadily lost its charm.
The mid-camp weekend, which started last year, has some appeal, but if star power is what San Antonio fans are looking for, they’re not going to get it. They would, though, if the games were played after camp, as they were the first two years.
Adrian Beltre, Prince Fielder and Cole Hamels, the biggest names the Rangers have, will be staying in Surprise. That’s nothing against San Antonio. That’s just the way veterans are treated.
Most veterans didn’t even go to Las Vegas a few years ago. If Vegas can’t lure them, what can?
Banister is going, as is Holland, Delino DeShields, Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor as long as he’s healthy. There’s no word if Gallo, Nomar Mazara or Lewis Brinson are going, but this would be the kind of thing prospects are told to do.
It’s also a good way to sneak in some frequent-flier miles, Marriott points and time with the kids. If you’re into that sort of thing.
The fans deserve to see major league players also. Some of the veteran guys have earned the right to stay here and work.
Manager Jeff Banister on trip to San Antonio
5. A hearty thanks goes out to Rangers fan and loyal Surprise Five reader Brad Davis, who made it all the way to the end of Saturday’s offering.
Hats off to the others who did, but only Brad Davis had a clue to the great mystery of my day: Where the hell were my glasses?
I knew they had slipped away from me as I wrangled the kiddos near Nolan Ryan Field, but no one I asked had seen them and my five trips to the back fields had been fruitless.
Mr. Davis, though, had picked them up and hung them on the bleachers to avoid any damage. Later, a security guard gave them to a member of the Rangers equipment staff, and they returned to my face a little after 10 a.m. Sunday.
Thanks to the success I had by using the power of the Internet, I now reveal that I am missing a wallet filled with at least 40 $100 bills and the winning Power Ball ticket from Saturday night. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if those items have been located.