Texas Rangers

‘I’m, obviously, not a center fielder.’ So, what is Gallo’s future position?

Joey Gallo was a first baseman to start the season but has played in the outfield throughout the second half.
Joey Gallo was a first baseman to start the season but has played in the outfield throughout the second half. rmallison@star-telegram.com

That one was pretty messy for the Texas Rangers.

Their starting pitcher couldn’t get out of the third, their long man du jour didn’t keep the game close, their defense committed three errors, and their offense went silent after losing within one run in the third inning.

Other that that, it was a great night at Globe Life Park.

Of note, though, was the initials BK that manager Jeff Banister wore on his red Rangers hat in honor of the scout who signed him in 1986, Buzzy Keller. Keller passed away Monday, Banister said.

Banister choked up as he talked about Keller, 84, who also scouted for the Rangers.

“A tremendous human being,” Banister said. “He’s the guy that signed me in a Wendy’s in Baytown, Texas, and gave me a thousand dollars and said, ‘I’m not going to make you rich, but I’m going give you an opportunity to play this game.’ He was a huge part of why I sit in this seat and why I am the person I am.”

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from an 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

1. The Rangers’ starting center fielder, for the second time in the past four games, was Joey Gallo.

“I’m, obviously, not a center fielder,” Gallo said.

Not at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds at a position that is punishing to all players. Only catchers take more abuse. For a player the size of Gallo, no outfield position is a piece of cake.

But the Rangers needed him to be in center because of the injury to Delino DeShields and so that they could stack as many left-handed bats as possible against Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler.

The Rangers do not want Gallo to become a full-time center fielder. They wanted him to be a full-time first baseman this season, and Gallo didn’t take any reps in the outfield during spring training.

Only after Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus were injured on back-to-back days in April did the Rangers send Gallo to left field. He’s been there or in right field or center the entire second half.

When asked which position he wants to play, Gallo gave the politically correct answer.

“Whatever’s best for the team,” he said. “I’m still getting used to the outfield. I feel like I’m improving week to week because I never played out there a significant amount of time. I was always an infielder.”

He seemed genuine enough. He understands that Ronald Guzman and Jurickson Profar have taken hold at first base, and that Adrian Beltre and Profar are sharing duties at third base.

That’s the position Gallo played throughout the minors and in his first two seasons in the majors, but it’s also the position he believes is most difficult for him to play even though all that running in the outfield has tested his legs.

“I haven’t really had to run that much out there, ever,” Gallo said. “I went into camp playing first, thinking I’m only playing first, and then it was like, ‘Hey, you’re playing full-time outfield.’ I was like, ‘Hopefully my legs can handle it.’ But I’m young and somewhat athletic, so I’ll make it work.”

The Rangers have told teams that they would consider trading from the group of left-handed-hitting outfielders that includes Gallo, Nomar Mazara, Willie Calhoun and Shin-Soo Choo.

Beltre remains undecided whether to return for 2019, though Profar seems primed for the spot if Beltre retires.

Gallo could find himself again without a permanent home in 2019 if the roster doesn’t turn over much in the off-season.

2. Ariel Jurado opened with two scoreless innings but recorded only two more outs. The Dodgers made him throw 35 pitches in the second inning, and though it was only 3-0, manager Jeff Banister had to come get the right-hander.

There will be days like that for rookie pitchers, and there’s probably a lesson to be learned from the sudden change. Maybe the Dodgers picked something up the second time through the order, or maybe his sinker wasn’t sinking enough.

The Rangers will continue to give Jurado starts for the rest of the season, though the rotation is set for some alterations in September. For instance, Bartolo Colon will come off the disabled list and reclaim his spot.

Yohander Mendez is expected to be a September call-up, though some uncertainty was thrown on how much he will be available after he was struck by a line drive Tuesday on the upper part of his throwing/left arm pitching for Triple A Round Rock.

The initial diagnosis was a bruise, so maybe he will be ready to pitch this weekend or next week. The only starter who is set for this weekend is Drew Hutchinson on Friday following another off day Thursday.

“We have some decisions to make, yes,” Banister said.

Colon, Martin Perez and Yovani Gallardo are all candidates for Saturday and Sunday.

Mendez’s next turn to pitch would be Sunday. He might get that start in the minors and come up after that.

That assumes, of course, that his arm is only bruised after taking a line drive off it.

3. To be completely transparent, Rangers Reaction has been leading the Eddie Butler rotation charge for 2019. It seems hard to believe that the Rangers took him in the Cole Hamels trade to be a long reliever.

His outing Tuesday was his longest with the Rangers, and he wasn’t very good while allowing five runs (four earned) in 4 1/3 innings. He did a little bit of everything that wasn’t good.

The Dodgers collected eight hits, including one homer, against him, and he also hit two batters and threw a wild pitch. To his credit, he got a big out to keep the damage at only three runs in the third, and he didn’t walk anyone.

His ERA with the Rangers jumped to 7.10.

Rangers Reaction has also previously predicted a 2019 rotation of Mike Minor, Perez, Butler, Jurado and Edinson Volquez. Yes, no Mendez. Yes, that doesn’t account for free agency or trades.

Yes, that doesn’t look very good after Tuesday.

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