Joey Gallo is apparently back in the lineup today for the Round Rock Express, batting fourth and playing third base.
Normally, the fact that a prospect is in the lineup wouldn't be worthy of its own post, but as many of you know, there's been much hubbub about Gallo's situation since he was pulled mid-game Thursday as a result of what was described as a "manager's decision." Gallo then sat both Friday and Saturday.
Thursday, there was speculation he was pulled because a call-up was imminent, and when that didn't happen, there was talk that he'd angered somebody, or that maybe he was being traded. It sounds like it was a situation where Round Rock manager Jason Wood felt Gallo needed a timeout, for whatever reason, and the decision has been made that the appropriate message has been sent, and that Joey will go forth and sin no more.
Thinking about this, it occurred to me that this season has probably been frustrating for Gallo. He got a call up to the majors last year, did some good stuff, struggled overall, got sent back down, had a difficult second half of the season in both AAA and the majors, and opted to skip winter ball in order to go home, work with Jason Giambi, and focus on what he needed to do to improve and be an impact player in the majors.
This spring, he apparently impressed in camp, and went to AAA and has mashed, putting up a .273/.417/.626 line. Its something where, on the surface, you'd figure he should be feeling good about things.
That being said...he's also seen Nomar Mazara, a good friend, but someone who has been behind him on the ladder for most of the last couple of years, get called up and establish himself as not just a major league starter, but as the leading A.L. Rookie of the Year candidate. He's missed time due to an injury, then got called up to the majors, only to sit on the bench and not get used other than for one pinch hitting appearance his first day up. He's seen Jurickson Profar, his teammate at Round Rock this year, who he had been out-performing, get called up when Rougned Odor was suspended, excel, and end up staying in the majors while playing a significant role.
And with all that going on, I suspect he's looking at what Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder are doing every night, and wondering, "Why am I not getting a shot?" I'm just guessing -- I have no idea, and no one has said anything to me about this -- but I have to think that he's seeing guys he think he's at least as good as, in Profar and Mazara, go up and perform, and he's seeing guys whose skill-set overlaps with his in Moreland and Prince playing poorly, and he probably thinks he should be in the big leagues right now. I wonder if he isn't saying to himself, I made the changes I needed to make, I cut my strikeout rate, I've improved my two strike approach, I'm playing different positions, and I'm still stuck in AAA while Nomar and Jurickson are playing key roles on a first place team...and not only are they getting the opportunity to do that, when I did get a call-up, I didn't even get the opportunity to play!
And I have to wonder if dealing with that, while also battling through a bit of a rough stretch (by his standards) over the previous week to ten days, didn't result in him popping off, or otherwise doing something which led the coaching staff to think it was time for a teachable moment.
Whatever is going on, hopefully Joey learns from it, and uses it to make himself a better player going forward.