After the Texas Rangers' 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on Thursday, there is no longer any debate of who is the hottest hitter in camp.
Joey Gallo annihilated a fifth-inning pitch from Brady Feigl over the berm in right-center field for a three-run homer to propel the Rangers to their first Cactus League win of 2021. It was his third home run of the spring — the same number of games in which he has played — to go along with seven RBI.
"It's always nice to get off to a start like that in spring training," Gallo said. "I'm just trying to work on the things I did in the offseason, implement them into the game. So far it's been working out pretty well."
Gallo is coming off a disappointing season at the plate in 2020. His season got off to a rocky start, testing positive for COVID-19, and not having the time to prepare for a rushed Major League season. Consequently, he wasn't able to get into a rhythm until the end of the shortened season, leaving some to doubt if his breakout performance in 2019 was a fluke.
"I think people underestimate how tough it was last year for us to not know when we were going to start up," Gallo said. "This year, I'm a lot more loose. I'm a lot more calm. ... I know I have a lot more time to get ready for a season. So, it's a lot less stress and pressure."
Gallo spent the offseason working on bringing his launch angle down, and trying to get more on top of the ball. He's also made a concerted effort to close off his front side and drive the ball to the middle of the field.
"I've noticed it's helped me get to balls on the outer half a little bit better," Gallo said.
Earlier this spring, Gallo said he had worked with Marucci over the winter, had his swing analyzed, and was provided more evenly-balanced bats instead of the top-heavy bats he had used previously.
However, he has yet to touch the new bats.
"The bat thing is kind of an experiment to see where your swing is," Gallo said. "It's not going to magically change who you are or anything."
Despite the hot start, Gallo isn't taking too much stock in spring training results. He has high praise for the attitude in the clubhouse, along with hitting coaches Luis Ortiz and Callix Crabbe, for keeping the focus on the process, not the results.
"It's easy to be positive when the results are positive," Gallo said. "I'm excited to see how I handle it when I go [hitless] in my next three games, or whatever. You keep working on it."
Gallo may have struggled in 2020 with the bat, but he handily won a Gold Glove in right field. If he's found his groove again at the plate, Gallo could become one of the most dangerous two-way players in baseball.
READ MORE: Odor Tweaks His Rangers Stance