The Dallas Morning News

Beltre’s calf opens door for Gallo

Banister to give young 3B chance to face lefties; he hits, he plays

- EVAN GRANT egrant@dallasnews.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Given the litany of injuries and illnesses Adrian Beltre has overcome and played through in his career, it is commonplac­e to say the third baseman knows his body better than anybody else. Rangers manager Jeff Banister, for example, said it again Tuesday.

Which, in this case, isn’t necessaril­y a good thing.

Banister was speaking about 30 minutes after Beltre acknowledg­ed suffering a setback in his right calf that, in Beltre-speak, sounded downright ominous. Beltre said he felt a twinge in his right calf during a Saturday workout that was in a different spot than the injury he’s been treating for the last two weeks. An MRI revealed a Grade 1 strain higher up in the calf than the previous injury. If you are scoring at home, that’s three different calf injuries since mid-February.

This was Beltre’s descriptio­n: “It’s not just tightness. I have tightness all over my body

and deal with it. I felt something in there that wasn’t right.”

The Rangers plan to treat the strain “conservati­vely,” which, even in the case of Beltre, means that he will probably be down another two weeks. They might be lucky if he’s active on Adrian Beltre dancing legs bobblehead night April 29.

So, for now, third base remains Joey Gallo’s domain. He had a fine week with a pair of home runs, including one against a lefty, and his first-ever hit after falling behind 0-2 in a count. These are significan­t developmen­ts. Banister has talked repeatedly about the level of comfort and confidence Gallo has displayed in the clubhouse and on the field.

But the playing-time situation in Beltre’s absence is significan­t, too. On whatever short samples the Rangers have, they believe Gallo, a lefthanded hitter, is a better option against left-handed pitching

than Jurickson Profar. Gallo was in the lineup, albeit hitting ninth, Tuesday against Los Angeles lefty Tyler Skaggs. It was his second straight start against lefties.

Gallo had two hits in his first nine major league at-bats against lefties, then three in the next 31 before a home run off Sean Manaea on Sunday. Profar, a switch hitter, has yet to demonstrat­e he’s a viable option against lefties. He’s a .187 career hitter with a .268 OPS. The Rangers have not given him an at-bat against a lefty this year; he’s 0 for 9 against right-handers.

Banister likes to tell his players: “Force me to put you in the lineup.”

Joey Gallo is a big man. He can be forceful.

“Based on what Joey did in spring training and what he’s done this year, he’s earned the opportunit­y to play,” Banister said. “That’s where our commitment level is. There are going to be days when he needs time off, but I don’t foresee him coming out just based on the pitcher’s arm.”

What’s significan­t about this is it also gives Gallo more of an opportunit­y to carve out a role even after Beltre returns. Gallo, like Profar, can also play left field and first base. Profar entered the season as the Rangers’ left-handed-hitting option in left field. Ditto at first base.If Gallo keeps this up, it could be theorized that Profar will see his role drop from supposed super utility man to simply backup infielder.

In the meantime, Joey Gallo has done what the Rangers ask of their young players: He’s forced Banister to play him.

 ?? Richard W. Rodriguez/TNS ?? Joey Gallo, who homered Sunday against Oakland, will stay in the lineup while Adrian Beltre is out.
Richard W. Rodriguez/TNS Joey Gallo, who homered Sunday against Oakland, will stay in the lineup while Adrian Beltre is out.
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