Texas Rangers

Rangers don’t expect Gallo to play again in 2019. Why aren’t they shutting him down?

The news the Texas Rangers received Thursday about Joey Gallo’s surgically repaired right hand was mostly good, both in the short term and the long.

Everything is normal in the hand nearly two months after he had a broken hamate bone removed, and specialist Dr. Thomas Diliberti assured Gallo that the injury will not get worse.

But the Rangers are not shutting down the first-time All-Star, even though they do not expect him to play again this season as he struggles to regain the strength in his grip.

They have been eliminated from postseason contention and have only eight games remaining after opening a three-game series Friday against the Oakland A’s.

Yet, the Rangers aren’t officially pulling the plug.

An obvious question would seem to be, “Why?”

“What’s the harm in it?” general manager Jon Daniels said. “If he’s able to get back and feels strong enough to go out and play, I wouldn’t see any harm in doing so. I’d be supportive if we get to that point, but I don’t think we’re going to.

“I think he wants to play if he feels like he can complete at a quality level, not necessarily 100 percent, but he doesn’t feel like he can at this point. I’m always of the mindset if guys can get back and not be risking further issues, I think there’s value to it both individually and for the team.”

However, there might be harm in it. Manager Chris Woodward said he is concerned that Gallo might injure something in his wrist by compensating for the lack of grip he has on the bat or mess up his swing mechanics and muscle memory heading into the offseason.

Woodward contends that no player in baseball swings harder than Gallo. Second might be former National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton, who missed the final three months of the 2015 season with the same injury.

The Miami Marlins chose to shut him down with only six games remaining.

“I feel bad for him because he’s caught in that middle ground of, ‘Do I come back and be half the player I can be, or do I do the right thing?” Woodward said. “Some other players have gone in three weeks or four weeks, and we’re comparing that to the guy who creates the most torque in all of baseball.”

The Rangers put Gallo on the 60-day injured list, but he can be reinstated as soon as Sunday. They used the opening on the 40-day roster to add catcher Tim Federowicz, as Jeff Mathis continues to deal with back stiffness.

Mathis said he has a chance to play again this season, and All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence thinks he might, too. He started doing rotational work Friday as he also deals with a lower back injury.

Gallo has a chance, too, even if he doesn’t or, arguably, shouldn’t.

“We’re going to leave that opening a little bit,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “If he progresses over the next week, he could get into a game during the last homestand, but we’re not expecting that.”

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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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