Adrian Beltre will be back soon. Once the future Hall of Famer returns, he’ll resume his spot at third base.
The Texas Rangers return to Arlington on Monday to start a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays and could have Beltre ready to go by first pitch. He recently wrapped up a rehab stint in Arizona over the weekend after spending some time on the disabled list due to a calf injury. Needless to say, the Rangers have not only missed his production on the field but also his clubhouse presence.
So what does that mean for Joey Gallo?
Gallomania has been alive and well through the first 51 games of the season. The young slugger has filled in nicely at third for the Rangers during Beltre’s absence. In fact, the play of Gallo has allowed Texas to not worry about rushing Beltre back from his injury.
At the plate, Gallo has been solid. The 23-year old is tied for second in the A.L. in home runs with 15. He also leads the Rangers with a .525 slugging percentage and .830 OPS. That’s a bat you can’t afford to take out of the lineup, especially if you have dreams of making a playoff run.
On defense, Gallo has made his fair share of highlights at the hot corner that shows the position may be in good hands once Beltre hangs up the cleats, which is still a few years away. In Sunday’s 3-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, Gallo even made an athletic turn on a double play while covering second with the infield shift on.
Now the dilemma will be finding a spot. DH is a likely immediate fit with Beltre returning to third and Mike Napoli having first base locked down. Gallo did play first last year in Triple-A Round Rock so he can pick up the first baseman glove and fill in with Napoli getting some DH time. The same scenario could also be used at third to give Beltre a break when needed.
There’s also left field, where Gallo played during his first couple of stints with the big league club. Of course there’s addition by subtraction, which means Ryan Rua and Delino Deshields will lose some playing time in the process.
One way or another, having both bats belonging to Beltre and Gallo at the same time will be a plus for a Rangers team that’s a game under .500 at 25-26 and ten games back of the division-leading Houston Astros in the A.L. West. However, the Rangers are hanging around in the wild card hunt, 1.5 games back as the calendar prepares to turn to June.
As the young Gallo continues to prosper with playing time, there could be history later on this season with Beltre. He’s 58 hits shy of joining the 3,000-hit club, which historically seals the deal for the Hall of Fame. Only 30 players have reached the 3,000-hit mark in major league history.
As most managers and general managers will say, it’s a nice problem to have when talking about a dilemma the Rangers are facing. The solution in the meantime could appear on Monday when the lineup card is turned in.