Texas Rangers

Gallo leaves Rangers’ game early with tight oblique. Is he headed to the injured list?

Joey Gallo: Young but experienced Rangers ready for takeoff

Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo said that he and the other third- and fourth-year Texas Rangers players can make strides this season.
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Rangers outfielder Joey Gallo said that he and the other third- and fourth-year Texas Rangers players can make strides this season.

Chris Woodward has set a new standard for positivity and optimism since coming aboard as Texas Rangers manager, but it was hard to squeeze much sunshine out of him Saturday evening when discussing the status of Joey Gallo.

The center fielder, one of baseball’s best players the first two months of the season, was headed for an MRI exam to determine the severity of the tightness in his left oblique muscle.

A stint on the 10-day disabled list seemed like a possibility after Gallo was lifted during a fifth-inning at-bat. He first felt discomfort on a throw in the top of the inning but said he was OK after taking a swing in the fifth.

After grimacing after a second swing, Gallo was removed from the game.

His two-run homer in the fourth inning broke a scoreless tie and jump-started a four-run inning that helped the Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals 6-2 for the second straight game.

Lance Lynn allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings, and Shin-Soo Choo doubled twice and drive in a run. The focus afterward, though, was on Gallo.

“We’re going to find out,” Woodward said. “He creates so much torque in that body, even if it’s a small oblique issue, I don’t want that to turn into a major one. He passed a lot of the strength tests, but if there is something in there, we’ll find out and plan accordingly after that.”

Delino DeShields and Zack Granite were not pulled from the starting lineup at Triple-A Nashville, and the Rangers have an off day Monday to potentially buy Gallo more time to heel up if the MRI doesn’t show anything significant.

Should Gallo need to go on the IL, DeShields would likely be the choice to replace him, with the Rangers needing a center fielder. Willie Calhoun (left quad) was eligible to come off the IL on Saturday, but he is likely a week away from being activated and can’t play center field.

While Gallo passed some tests after coming out of the game, Woodward said it wasn’t clear that he isn’t injured.

“I wouldn’t say he passed with flying colors, but he’s so strong, he passes most strength tests even though there might be a bit of an issue there,” Woodward said. “Once we get the MRI, we’ll know what’s going on.”

Gallo’s 17th homer of the season came after Hunter Pence started the fourth with a single. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a single and went to third two batters later on a Ronald Guzman double.

Jeff Mathis brought in Cabrera with a sacrifice fly, and Choo doubled in Guzman.

Gallo launched a grand slam, the first of his career, Friday night to cap a six-run sixth inning. Gallo entered Saturday leading the American League in OPS (1.048) and at-bats per home run (10.6). He had fallen to second in slugging percentage (.633).

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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