Baseball

After hitless week and ear infection, Joey Gallo breaks out of slump in return to Rangers lineup

They solved the problem with Joey Gallo's ears over the weekend. Looks like maybe the Rangers are making some progress on what was going on between them, too.

A day after being sent home with a 103-degree fever and an inner ear infection, Gallo returned to the Rangers lineup and broke from a week-long slump with two big hits in a 12-7 thrumming of the Los Angeles Angels Monday.

Gallo's third-inning homer, on a full-count pitch broke an 0-for-16 stretch and tied the game at four. His two-strike, fifth-inning single – through empty space on the left side of the infield – gave the Rangers their first lead at 5-4. A nice start to a week after he was the only MLB player to have at least 10 plate appearances without reaching base once. He was 0 for 13 with eight strikeouts.

"Everybody knows he has power, but when you get to two strikes and you get a fastball up and just hit the ball on the ground to the empty side of the field, that just shows he's really about the team," manager Chris Woodward said. "He really kept calm in that situation. That's something I was looking for and something I noticed tonight."

The problems may have sprung from Gallo's eighth-inning, bases-loaded at-bat against The Angels on April 7. He popped out to shallow right field, failing to score a run and extending his career long streak without a sacrifice fly. After that, manager Chris Woodward said, Gallo may have fallen into a familiar pattern of trying to do too much.

"I think he really felt like he let people down," Woodward said. "I told him: 'You are not letting people down. It doesn't fall all on your shoulders.' It led to some very productive talks. He's open to a lot of things. He's talking about his feelings, his fears, his concerns. He's opened himself up to lots of growth and he's going to be much better because of it."

According to Woodward, Gallo started trying to commit a hair earlier on fastballs to maximize his power potential, while also letting the ball travel to better recognize pitches. As it sounds, it led to a guy being caught in between in approach.

"I got a little anxious," he said. "It's tough to always have the perfect approach and not chase out of the zone. You know you are going to go through some funks. You are going to have ups and downs in this process. It's not just ups."

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