For Gallo, focus is on the game, not hype

For Gallo, focus is on the game, not hype

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Joey Gallo has made adjustments this spring. He has opened up his stance, and he has tried to see more pitches in his at-bats and have a game plan every time he goes to the plate. But those are just minor adjustments.

There is one adjustment Gallo is trying to make that towers over all others. He is trying to take the weight of the world off his shoulders and stop getting down on himself. He is trying to tune out all the hype and just play baseball.

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"I used to care about all that stuff," Gallo said. "You're always trying to prove something. I wanted people to look at me and say I'm a great baseball player. Now I don't care what people think. All I care about is what I think, and my teammates think and my family. I'm not listening to all that noise and outside distractions. People can have their opinions. I'm just going to go out and play."

The consensus opinion about Gallo has always been that he has prodigious power -- the kind rarely seen in any team's farm system, the kind that always leads to unrealistic expectations. It can also create an irresistible desire to accelerate what should be the normal developmental process and force something to happen too quickly.

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Gallo has been fighting that battle for several years and not always winning. That can wear down anybody.

"Oh yeah … yeah," he said. "We all do it, it's part of it. Everybody has a bad game and you get frustrated. But the guys who become good at this, if they have a bad game, they go home and sleep at night and come back with a new perspective. The important thing is to keep your routine and a strong outlook without getting frustrated or down on yourself."

Adrian Beltre and Michael Young mastered that a long time ago, and Gallo has tried to learn from both.

"It's ridiculous to get upset," he said. "It's been frustrating because you want to be a great player. But I've come to realize that it's a marathon, not a sprint. It's going to take time to be the player I want to be.

"When you get here at the age I did, you want to have success right away. If it doesn't work that way, it gets frustrating. But I know I have a lot to learn. What have I had up here, 100 at-bats? That's not even a season. That's a 30-game stretch. That's nothing."

Gallo has had 133 at-bats over five stints with the Rangers the past two seasons, hitting .173 with seven home runs. He is just 23, and Texas is willing to be patient -- although that would constitute a monumental shift in philosophy for everybody.

Gallo understands all the initial hype was just noise needed to be ignored.

"Yeah … to me, everybody is overhyped," he said. "It's ridiculous to put that those kinds of expectations and hype on kids, but in this day and age, a guy gets drafted high and he's automatically expected to be the next big thing."

Gallo may end up being the next big thing. He just wants to do it on his own terms, and that's the biggest adjustment of all.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.