At some point, as hard as it is to believe, Joey Gallo wasn’t full of confidence.
Maybe it was when he was a toddler at his first swimming lesson. Or maybe when he was a teenager on his first date. Or the first time he tried brussels sprouts.
Even that seems hard to imagine.
But, apparently, it’s true. At some point, the 21-year-old power-hitting wunderkind either lacked confidence with a bat in his hands or wasn’t as confident as he could have been.
That’s not an issue anymore, and it showed Tuesday night at Globe Life Park with a debut for the Texas Rangers’ record books.
Gallo, the Rangers’ top prospect, went 3 for 4 with a second-deck home run in his second at-bat, and his four RBIs set a club record for a major league debut as the Rangers powered past the Chicago White Sox 15-2.
“It was a lot of fun, a lot of adrenaline, and I’m glad it’s out of the way,” Gallo said. “I got that first hit out of the way, and I was able to just relax and play just like another game.
“I definitely did not think this was going to happen the first game. I was just going to be happy to get on base. I definitely overachieved on my goals there.”
Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Corporan also homered, and Corporan had a career-high five RBIs even though he didn’t enter the game until the third inning as an injury replacement for Robinson Chirinos.
The Rangers had a season-high 19 hits, and their 15 runs matched their season high. But the night was all about Gallo.
“I’ve never seen that,” designated hitter Prince Fielder said. “Amazing. He did what everybody expected him to do. That’s hard to do.”
Gallo started at third base and batted sixth as the Rangers played for the first time this season without Adrian Beltre, who is out three weeks with a sprained and lacerated left thumb.
The plan is for the left-handed-hitting Gallo to play regularly, though with some time off against tough lefty pitchers, until Beltre is healthy. Gallo might alter that plan if he keeps producing like he did against the White Sox.
Gallo collected his first career hit in his first career at-bat, a two-run single that took a bad hop past first baseman Adam LaRoche.
In the third, Gallo crushed a homer into the upper deck in right field, scoring Elvis Andrus. Fans demanded a curtain call, and Gallo obliged after some urging from Fielder.
“I just wanted to make sure it was for me,” Gallo said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
In the fifth, Gallo sent a fly ball off the top of the wall in right-center and hustled into second for a double.
In the sixth, he struck out with the bases loaded, but the fans cheered him anyway.
He walked in the eighth in his last chance to become the first major leaguer to hit for the cycle in his first game, but it showed the things he’s been focusing on at the plate.
“That was pretty impressive,” manager Jeff Banister said.
Gallo was confident before he ever took the field, thanks to the knowledge he took with him to Double A Frisco after his first big league spring training.
“Being around these guys, being in the clubhouse, the atmosphere, I think that helped more, obviously, making adjustments to the game,” Gallo said. “I went back to Double A and played pretty well, so I feel as confident as I’ve been so far in my career.”
The hope is that Gallo absorbs as much knowledge from Beltre as possible. That process started in spring training, and left Beltre impressed.
“I think he’s the real deal,” Beltre said. “He has a chance to show what he can do in the big leagues, and hopefully he can do well and help our ballclub win ballgames.”
Asked what impressed him most, Beltre said the same thing everyone else does.
“His power. … Duh,” Beltre said. “He has impressive power that I think we’re all jealous of up here.”
At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Gallo generates tremendous bat speed and his swing path generates plenty of lift. He also piles up the strikeouts, something the Rangers want to see him fix.
He’s been working on it.
“Just trying to be a little more patient in the zone, pitch recognition, just taking my walks when they’re not throwing to me, being a little short to the ball, and things like that,” said Gallo, who batted .314 with nine homers and 31 RBIs in 34 games at Frisco. “So far, it’s been going pretty well.”
And he’s all filled up on confidence.
“I know he has a lot of confidence, and he should,” Banister said. “You need confidence to play this game. This game will humble you. But tonight he had a lot of confidence, and he should.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760