Texas Rangers

Could Joey Gallo be Rangers’ long-term answer in center field?

Joey Gallo’s move to center field two weeks ago was supposed to be a stop-gap measure.

Eventually, Delino DeShields would return to reclaim his spot.

But Gallo has excelled at the position and Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward is open to Gallo being a long-term option in center.

“I’m constantly asking myself that every day,” Woodward said before the Rangers beat the Mariners 5-3 Tuesday night at Globe Life Park.

Gallo was 2 for 3 with a double and a two-run home run in the eighth inning to give the Rangers a three-run cushion. He also moved from center to left when Willie Calhoun left the game with a left quad strain in the seventh inning. Danny Santana replaced Calhoun and played center.

“We’ve got to be open to seeing what’s in front of us, but also to some metrics … to really try to see if this can actually be an option, if we’re forced to go there, if he can handle it — not only from an ability standpoint but also from a physical standpoint.”

There’s no question Gallo enjoys it. He was open to it when the Rangers asked him to play there once in 2015 and 15 times a year ago. Woodward isn’t concerned about Gallo’s athletic ability to handle the job. But he’s still trying to discern how much of a physical toll it would put on him during a full season.

“He’s a big body,” Woodward said. “He likes it. He actually embraces that challenge … he asked to play center field. That’s a big difference than putting him out there hoping that he’s good. If he wants to play out there, that’s a big factor.”

Gallo is second in the American League with six assists. He has three in left field and three in center. His arm has impressed Woodward, especially since playing primarily center the past two weeks.

“I wanted to see a little more of a sample size to see what it actually shows from a numbers standpoint, but from the eye standpoint — good,” he said. “He wants to get jumps on balls. He’s talking to [Jayce Tingler] all the time about positioning and how to optimize himself, if he is better going back or forward.”

Gallo’s arm strength has been eye-opener for Woodward.

“The arm is a huge weapon,” he said. “Any ball to center field you got a chance to throw them out at third or home. Which typically, with center fielders, you don’t have that.

Woodward thinks Gallo has been more accurate with his throws from center, too.

“Maybe his awareness on the field, he aligns better maybe in center,” Woodward said. “Earlier in the season he was super strong, but at times was a little off. And I just thought there were some things he could clean up as far as his mechanics, throwing, make sure he gets in line and let it go. But center field it’s like every throw is right on the money.”

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.
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