Texas Rangers

Here’s how Joey Gallo will determine the composition of the Rangers’ Opening Day roster

Just a video of Joey Gallo going deep

Texas Rangers left fielder Joey Gallo played in a minor-league game Friday and connected for a home run in his first at-bat. See it here.
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Texas Rangers left fielder Joey Gallo played in a minor-league game Friday and connected for a home run in his first at-bat. See it here.

The player who will determine the final shape of the Texas Rangers’ Opening Day roster played Friday afternoon for the first time in more than a week, and his postgame report pointed to one thing:

There will be eight relievers and three bench players on the initial 25-man roster of the season.

Joey Gallo said that he had no problems with his strained right groin during four plate appearances and some base running during a Triple A game at the Surprise Recreation Campus.

He hit a two-run homer, walked twice and grounded to first. Gallo said he is healthy enough to do whatever is asked of him, including backing up center fielder Delino DeShields.

“I have zero concern about it, honestly, knock on wood,” Gallo said. “For me, it’s more about just getting back in baseball mode, seeing pitches, taking swings and tracking balls in the outfield. I only missed a week, so I don’t feel like I’m too far behind.”

Earlier Friday, manager Chris Woodward said that the Rangers would take eight relievers with them into Thursday’s season opener if Gallo can play capably serve as DeShields’ occasional backup.

That’s not the best news for Danny Santana and Nick Granite, center fielders who could serve as DeShields’ backup if Gallo were limited to left field. They still have a chance at the roster if Gallo has a setback.

Woodward said during his morning media session that infielder Logan Forsythe and right-hander Jason Hammel have made the team. Hammel will serve as the long reliever, leaving two bullpen spots to be determined.

The expectation is that Zach McAllister will make the team, and that leaves fellow righties Connor Sadzeck, Adrian Sampson and Jeanmar Gomez and left-hander Kyle Bird in the mix for the eighth spot.

Sadzeck is young, throws hard and is out of options, and that gives him an edge for the last spot of an eight-man bullpen. If he doesn’t make the team, the Rangers would have to designated him for assignment and hope he clears waiver.

“He’s really trying to understand what will make him successful,” Woodward said. “He’s taken on the challenge. You could tell he was a little uncomfortable at times, but he’s started to understand. We’ll see. If we can bet on that, he would be a good option.”

Woodward said that the final decision won’t be made until the Rangers are convinced about Gallo’s health. That likely means Tuesday or Wednesday, the day before the opener against the Chicago Cubs, after Gallo plays the outfield.

He has said all along that he will be ready to start the season. His day Friday is further evidence that he will be proven right.

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