Texas Rangers injury update: Josh Hamilton is currently on a rehab assignment and will be playing for the Round Rock Express through this weekend, while Delino DeShields is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with the Express on Saturday. And that could spell the end of Joey Gallo's time in the majors as soon as Monday.
The Rangers are currently rolling with a four man bench that includes no true backup outfielder, although Gallo has been playing the outfield. Hamilton appears likely to be activated on Monday, when the Rangers travel to Baltimore to start a four game set against the Orioles -- he's not going to be activated this weekend because of the problems the Toronto turf gives players dealing with injuries, but he's played on Wednesday and Thursday, and if he has no issues this weekend, I have to think he'll be activated.
DeShields is more questionable, as he's coming back from a strained left hamstring, and that's an injury that can recur and get worse if you don't let it fully heal. However, if he does go out on assignment on Saturday, and has no issues, it seems likely he'll be activated, if not Monday, then at some point in the Baltimore series.
That means that the Rangers will have to drop two players from the 25 man roster to make room for DeShields and Hamilton. It almost certainly will be position players, and while it is possible that Mitch Moreland or Shin-Soo Choo could land on the d.l. because of their current physical ailments, I think the assumption is that they will stay active.
My guess is that Hanser Alberto gets optioned to clear one spot -- with Rougned Odor back up and Adrian Beltre activated, there's not many at bats for him anymore, and keeping Adam Rosales on the active roster means that they can play Rosales once a week in the infield or spot him at first base against a tough lefty, while letting Alberto get regular ABs in the minors while providing depth should someone get hurt.
The Rangers have to keep a backup infielder and a backup catcher, and Hamilton and DeShields being activated means DeShields (or Leonys Martin, possibly) will be the backup outfielder. That leaves one bench spot for either Ryan Rua or Joey Gallo. And given their respective situations and the makeup of the roster, Rua looks like a better fit to stick around than Gallo.
Its funny, because a week or ten days ago, there was clamoring that the Rangers couldn't -- MUSTN'T -- send Gallo down. Now, though? While his line is still respectable -- .224/.306/.461 in 85 plate appearances -- he's striking out more often, he has a 416 OPS with 15 Ks and no home runs in his last 27 PAs, and he's looking helpless against lefties. Gallo is 21 years old, and the game plan when he was brought up was for him to play third base until Beltre was ready, then go back down. The injuries to DeShields and Kyle Blanks opened up an opportunity for him to stick around longer, but there's simply not at bats for him unless you juggle people for the express purpose of giving him at bats -- and even then, he's a lefthanded hitter who struggles against LHPs on a team whose lineup is filled with lefties who struggle against LHPs. Ryan Rua, who can play multiple positions and swing a righty bat, is a better roster fit right now.
And Gallo is not a finished product. He needs more time at AAA, to face pitchers there who are more advanced than the guys he faced at AA, to face lefties regularly (something he's not likely to do in the majors right now), and to work on his weaknesses so that he'll be ready to play every day come 2016. Hopefully, he'll go down to Round Rock next week, mash for a couple of months, and return when rosters expand in September, ready to stake a claim to an everyday job in 2016.