Triple A Round Rock was in Iowa on April 9, when Nomar Mazara was pulled in the ninth inning from a soggy, chilly game.
Third baseman Joey Gallo, the Rangers’ top-ranked prospect, was jealous. He wanted the comfort of the dugout and clubhouse, too. Then, he learned that Shin-Soo Choo had been injured and that Mazara was headed to the Texas Rangers’ roster.
“I just looked at the guy next to me and was like, ‘He ain’t coming back,’ ” Gallo said Thursday at Dell Diamond. “He’s too advanced. He’s a really smart, intelligent guy. He just gets it. The moment’s never too big. He’s a freak. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with. I just want to be up there with him.”
First, though, Gallo needs to recover from a strained left groin. He’s getting closer and will head to extended spring training in Arizona on Saturday with the hopes of returning next weekend when Round Rock visits El Paso.
“This place isn’t as fun to hit at,” Gallo said. “I want to get as many games on the road as possible.”
He was batting .254 (17 for 67) with a .400 on-base percentage and a .642 slugging percentage with 17 walks and 21 strikeouts in 20 games. He said he has improved his two-strike approach, focusing on trying to put the ball in play more, and is more comfortable in his second trial at Triple A.
“It was going well,” Gallo said. “I was having good at-bats. I kind of know when I’m going to get pitched to, when I’m not going to get pitched to. I’m probably going to see a lot of off-speed. I was kind of ready for that. Hopefully the injury doesn’t set back anything.”
Gallo was fully aware that Adrian Beltre, the third baseman blocking him from playing time with the Rangers, has signed a two-year extension through 2018.
“Good for him,” Gallo said. “I’m happy for him. He deserved it.”
So far, though, there has been no talk of Gallo playing first base, which could be open next season if Mitch Moreland leaves as a free agent.