Amid all the talk Monday about Joey Gallo playing left field and batting second and Rougned Odor returning from Triple A, the reason behind all the Texas Rangers’ lineup turmoil was largely forgotten.
Delino DeShields, the Rule 5 pick many didn’t think should make the Opening Day roster and who many thought should never stick all season, will be out three weeks with a strained left hamstring.
“That’s probably what needs to get talked about — a Rule 5 pick that all of the sudden everybody is going, ‘Uh oh,’” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
Maybe DeShields would be the story had Jake Smolinski or Kyle Blanks been the first choice to replace DeShields. But Gallo is the top prospect — the one hitting mammoth homers, the one fans want to see stay even after Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton are healthy.
Gallo’s chances at that seem to be improving. The more versatility he can show, the more the Rangers will be enticed to make his stay in the majors a longer one.
A permanent stay? With all the injured pieces coming back, it doesn’t add up. Then again, the Rangers changed their mind about Gallo, a third baseman by trade, playing left field.
“If Joey’s playing well and forcing us to make those type of decisions, that’s a good thing,” Banister said. “How Joey’s played and looked is what we were hoping and looking for.
“The one thing that we will always been mindful of is there is still development to be had for Joey Gallo, that we always be mindful of that big picture, looking long-term of what Joey needs on a daily basis.”
Gallo didn’t have any action until the fifth inning as Yovani Gallardo kept the ball on the ground and kept the Los Angeles Dodgers scoreless over seven innings en route to a 4-1 victory.
Odor provided much of the offense, going 3 for 3 with two RBIs in his first game back with the Rangers following a demotion to Round Rock.
“I wanted to get back with my teammates and my team,” Odor said. “I’m here and I’m going to keep doing what I do to help my team.”
By the time Gallo made his only putout, for the first out in the eighth, it was dark — alleviating his No. 1 pregame concern.
“The sun is right in my face,” Gallo said.
Gallo went out early for some work with assistant coach Jayce Tingler, and spent time during batting practice shagging fly balls in left. He entered the game with six starts in left field as a professional, each coming this season at Double A Frisco.
The Rangers, though, like his athletic ability and arm strength in the outfield, where he could eventually play for the majority of his career. For now, Gallo would play catcher if the Rangers asked.
“Wherever they want me to play, I’m going to play,” said Gallo, who moved to third base in the ninth as Smolinski took over in left.
But the left-handed-hitting Gallo might not even be in the lineup today and Wednesday against left-handers Brett Anderson and Clayton Kershaw, the reigning National League Cy Young winner and MVP.
The righty-hitting Blanks, who also took fly balls with Gallo, is an option as the pain from his pilonidal cyst has subsided. Ryan Rua, with Round Rock on a rehab assignment, could be an option by the end of the week, and Josh Hamilton, on the disabled list with a strained groin, is recovering quicker than the Rangers had expected.
For one night, the first with DeShields on the DL, Gallo was the choice to play left field.
At the plate, Gallo drew a walk in the sixth inning as the Rangers scored four times, but Odor was the offense’s star. His opposite-field single drove in the Rangers’ final two runs.
That was plenty for Gallardo, who used his cutter, slider and two-seamer to induce ground ball after ground ball. He got 10 of them, including three that started double plays. Two of those got him out of the sixth and seventh innings.
His effort gave the Rangers a club-record 11 straight quality starts.
“We plan on keeping it going, that’s for sure,” said Gallardo, who is 3-0 with a 1.41 ERA over his past five starts. “I’m throwing the ball well right now. It’s not an easy team to face with the guys they have in that lineup, but I made pitches whenever I needed to.”
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760