Gil LeBreton

Banister seeks patience as White Sox try to cure Gallo Fever

AP

Gallo Fever took a night off Thursday.

One more tough Chicago White Sox lefty and — gasp! — a brief hint of Joey Gallo mortality, two errors, helped to make sure of that.

The White Sox wisely were only playing the percentages.

This just in: Gallo, just 21 years old, is going to strike out. A lot.

His powerful, arcing swing is grooved for the long ball and the windy miss. He struck out 172 times in the minor leagues in 2013 and 179 last season.

It should be no concern, therefore, that Gallo fanned five times over two nights against two of the toughest lefties in the American League, Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon. The Texas Rangers struck out eight other times against Rodon, after whiffing 16 times against Sale and relievers on Wednesday night.

A better frame of reference for a kid in his first week in the major leagues might be the single he hit in the eighth inning Thursday off Chicago lefty reliever Zach Duke, which followed the ninth-inning home run he hit the night before.

Gallo clearly made an impression on the White Sox during the series. With the winning run on second base in the ninth inning Thursday, Gallo was given his first big league intentional walk.

Before the game, Rangers manager Jeff Banister had issued a plea, of sorts, for patience.

“If we want this guy [Gallo] to have success,” Banister said, “let’s just let him play.

“I know everybody wants this young man to perform and to stay here. All of us do. But let’s just let him play.”

He is here on a fast-track promotion not because the general manager is trying to force-feed the organization’s young talent. Common sense should compel you to ask, what would be the purpose of that?

Jon Daniels, the general manager, wants to win baseball games, as does Banister. There are no unspoken agendas — no plots to sell tickets, no Nolan Ryan voodoo dolls, no points to prove to his owner-bosses — at stake here.

Daniels explained it well earlier in the week when Gallo was called up from Double-A. The third baseman had earned a promotion. Why not elevate him temporarily all the way to the big leagues, within the context and time frame of filling in for the injured Adrian Beltre?

Banister was asked the question Thursday — a fair one — about whether the club had any plans to start Gallo in the outfield in place of the injured Josh Hamilton.

Banister took a deep breath and answered patiently, “I think what we’ll do is allow Joey to play third base right now. He’s been here for three days. Let him play his third game and let him settle in to being a big leaguer.

“Remember that every experience he has, each day, is a new one — one he needs to pay attention to, honor, and really let soak in.”

The poster child for Daniels’ alleged impatience remains, to some, young infielder Jurickson Profar. Beamed up to the major leagues in September 2012, at age 19, Profar was expected to earn a regular spot in the starting lineup the next season.

But he batted only .234 in 85 games in 2013 and has been recovering from a shoulder injury ever since.

Profar, a bust? That’s crazy talk. He is still only 22 years old.

Gallo turned 21 last November. The catcher of the future, Jorge Alfaro, will be 22 next week. Outfield prospect Nick Williams is 21 and Nomar Mazara just turned 20.

Gallo’s call-up was a special case for what the Rangers feel is a grounded, special player.

“The best thing we can do,” Banister said, “is to allow this young man to get comfortable, to go perform and to learn what it means to be a big leaguer.”

Being here, Gallo has discovered, means facing tough lefties.

And being walked intentionally — because, well, he is a major leaguer.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @gilebreton

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