Gallo "not worried at all" about tight quad muscle

Joey Gallo spring training 2

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Joey Gallo was adamant: The wrap around his left quadriceps is nothing to get worked up about.

“Just a little soreness, a little tightness,” the Nationals slugger said. “If it’s the season, we’re not even talking about it. But obviously in spring training, you’re always just cautionary. I’m not worried at all.”

Gallo hasn’t played either of the last two days because of the tight quad muscle. He didn’t participate in team defensive drills this morning, though he did take batting practice and showed no ill effects, launching balls into the stratosphere as usual.

The 30-year-old first baseman/outfielder said he didn’t get hurt on any one particular play. He just felt the tightness develop over several days and decided not to push it further.

“I’ve been playing with it fine,” he said. “It’s just more getting a couple days off it. It’s still so early in spring, you don’t want to do anything stupid. It’s very precautionary. Obviously, I’m out practicing, I’m doing everything. It’s about getting off it for a couple games and then getting back out there. It’s not a worry at all.”

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Starting lineups: Nats vs. Astros in West Palm Beach

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Welcome to the 2024 Grapefruit League season, everyone! The Nationals open exhibition play tonight with a home game against their spring complex co-habitants, the Astros, at the newly renamed CACTI Park of the Palm Beaches. The facility, which first opened in 2017, is being rededicated tonight, with special guest Travis Scott (who founded CACTI hard seltzers, in addition to being a Grammy-winning rap artist) throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to Josiah Gray.

As for the game itself, the Nationals will be trotting out what could be their Opening Day lineup. The batting order could be switched around from this, but for now it’s a 3-4-5-6 of Joey Gallo, Joey Meneses, Jesse Winker and Keibert Ruiz. Interesting twist: Gallo is at first base, with Meneses serving as designated hitter after a winter spent talking about how he may be a more productive hitter when he’s also playing the field. Again, this is just one game, so don’t draw any conclusions until we have more lineups to consider.

All of those starters are scheduled to take one or two at-bats before departing. That means plenty of playing time for backups, and tonight that will include three top outfield prospects: Robert Hassell III in left field, Dylan Crews in center field, James Wood in right field. That will be fun to watch.

Patrick Corbin gets the start, scheduled for two innings and 35 pitches. And he’ll be followed by two more starters: Jackson Rutledge and Joan Adon, each also scheduled for two innings and 35 pitches. Eventually, we’ll see a few relievers.

If you’re interested in watching tonight’s game, you can pick up the Astros’ TV broadcast on MLB.tv and tape-delayed at 10 p.m. on MLB Network. You can also listen to Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler on nationals.com.

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For Gallo, a Web Gem is just as important as a home run

Joey Gallo Twins jersey

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Joey Gallo saved the scouting reports, the ones written about him when he was a 6-foot-5, 18-year-old third baseman coming out of high school in Las Vegas, the ones that insisted his only path to the major leagues some day would be through his prodigious bat.

“Everybody always told me my whole life: ‘You’re going to be a first baseman, a DH,’” he recalled. “‘You don’t hit the ball enough to play in the big leagues. You’re not athletic enough.’ All that stuff.”

So, when he won the first of his two Gold Glove Awards in 2020 as the Rangers’ right fielder, Gallo pulled those scouting reports out of the old file and relished in the moment.

“I was always told I couldn’t,” he said. “And that helps, because you want to prove people wrong. It gives you a little fire. I’ve always been pretty athletic for my size and had a good arm. I didn’t want that to go to waste. I wanted to put it to good use, so I could look back one day and say I did everything I could to be the best baseball player I could be.”

Make no mistake, the Nationals signed Gallo for $5 million this winter primarily because of his ability to hit the ball very far in the air, something they as a team didn’t do nearly enough last season. But they were equally impressed with the 30-year-old’s abilities in the field, from the arm that has thrown out 42 runners from the outfield to the glove that has scooped up dozens of errant throws at first base to prevent his teammates from being charged with an error.

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Updating the organization depth chart as spring training approaches

Mike Rizzo

We are now inside of two weeks until pitchers and catchers report, so the offseason is nearly finished.

And what an offseason it’s been for the Nationals, who have … acquired a total of four major league players, not even totaling $10 million spent on those players.

OK, so it’s been an awfully quiet winter on South Capitol Street. There’s still time for Mike Rizzo and Co. to make more moves, though. And given the swath of still-unsigned free agents out there, we may see teams continue to add significant players after spring training has already commenced.

But since we’re getting close to the finish line now, it’s probably a good time to take an updated look at the state of the Nationals’ organization depth chart. We did this way back on Nov. 8, at the outset of the offseason. How does it look today compared to then?

(Note: Players listed below are on the 40-man roster, except for those with an asterisk next to their names.)

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Gallo's goal: Raise batting average without sacrificing power

Joey Gallo Twins jersey

Ask Joey Gallo what stats matter most to him, and he’ll tell you he pays attention to on-base percentage, OPS and isolated power. He’ll also tell you what he doesn’t pay attention to.

“I don’t look at average,” he said. “Because I want to throw up if I do.”

Don’t worry about tiptoeing around the subject of batting average with Gallo. Whatever you think of the cringeworthy numbers he’s posted throughout his career, he thinks worse of them.

Gallo, who signed a $5 million deal with the Nationals last week and was formally introduced via a Zoom call with reporters Monday, has played parts of nine seasons in the major leagues. His career batting average is .197. Only once has he finished a season with an average better than .209.

He finds that just as unacceptable as you do. He also knows it’s not as easy to fix as you might think.

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On Gallo's signing, Pineda's DFA and the new jerseys

Joey Gallo

A smorgasbord of Nationals thoughts on this Monday morning as Detroit Lions fans around the world cope with coming oh-so-close to their first Super Bowl appearance and the rest of us cope with another Chiefs-49ers matchup …

* The Joey Gallo signing became official over the weekend after the 30-year-old slugger passed his physical. Gallo is now a member of the Nats, having agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal that also includes a mutual option for 2025.

Before anyone gets too worked up over that last nugget: Mutual options almost never get picked up. If the player has a good season, he’ll want to decline it and see if he can get a better deal as a free agent. If the player struggles, the team will decline it because it won’t want to overpay him for a second season.

So for all practical purposes, this is a one-year contract for Gallo, who will be motivated to put up big numbers and try to parlay that into a better deal next winter, whether from the Nationals or someone else.

The odds of Gallo fitting into the Nats’ 2025 plans probably aren’t great. If things go as they’re supposed to go, the outfield will be filled with James Wood and Dylan Crews joining Lane Thomas. (And even if some part of that preferred plan doesn’t come to fruition, there’s still Robert Hassell III, Daylen Lile, Jacob Young, Stone Garrett and others who could ascend to an available starting role.)

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With Gallo signing, Nats lineup starting to take shape

Joey Gallo Twins white

It was a tricky task just days ago: For this week’s “The Hot Stove Show” on MASN All Access, I was struggling to put together a potential Opening Day starting defensive lineup graphic with the Nationals roster as it stood at the time.

Some positions were obvious: Keibert Ruiz was the starting catcher, CJ Abrams at shortstop and Lane Thomas in right field.

Some I could piece together: At the Winter Meetings, general manager Mike Rizzo and skipper Davey Martinez said Joey Meneses was going to play more first base. When Nick Senzel signed, he said he was being brought in to be the everyday third baseman. And until some prospects get more seasoning, no one is immediately pressing Luis García Jr. or Victor Robles for their jobs at second base and center field, respectively. (Yet.)

The starting pitcher came down to Josiah Gray and MacKenzie Gore. I went with Gray as he has tenure with the team and was the more consistent pitcher over the course of last season. It seemed the most logical choice, with the idea that short of an injury, Gore would have to very obviously outperform Gray in camp to get the Opening Day duties instead.

That left the designated hitter, left field and three bench spots open.

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Where can the Nationals find more power in 2024?

Joey Meneses

The Nationals’ acquisition of Joey Gallo this week – which still won’t be official for another day or two, by the way – was made with one primary purpose in mind: To inject some power into a lineup that sorely needs it.

The Nats ranked last in the National League with 151 home runs last season. And they had only one individual player top 18 homers: Lane Thomas, who finished with 28.

Gallo, for those who don’t know, has averaged 30 homers in each of his last six full major-league seasons and hit 38 as recently as 2021 with the Rangers and Yankees. He hit only 21 last year with the Twins, but he did that in only 332 plate appearances. His 6.3 percent home run rate was actually right in line with his career average, not to mention more than double the major-league average.

So, Gallo’s presence is going to help the Nationals. But he alone isn’t going to turn the league’s worst power-hitting lineup into even an average one. For that, the Nats will need blasts from others.

There’s still a reasonable chance Mike Rizzo adds another bat this winter, because at the moment the team’s Opening Day designated hitter appears to be … Riley Adams? Jake Alu? Stone Garrett (if he’s healthy)? The options aren’t great, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Rizzo spends a bit more money on another hitter with power potential.

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Why the Nationals are signing Gallo

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If you missed the news Tuesday, the Nationals actually acquired a major leaguer.

Yes, for the first time in 42 days, they made a move involving the 40-man roster. (OK, actually the move isn’t official yet and may not be for another few days, so the streak technically continues.)

Joey Gallo is going to be a National, the 30-year-old slugger having agreed to terms on a one-year deal that guarantees $5 million, plus the potential for another $1 million earned in incentives, sources familiar with the negotiation confirmed. He’ll need to pass a physical, and the team will need to clear a 40-man spot for him, but then it’ll all be official, and our long winter nightmare will be over.

The Nats hadn’t made a major-league transaction since Dec. 12, when they officially announced the signings of Nick Senzel and Dylan Floro. Suffice it to say, it has been a while.

If you were hoping for a deal to get excited about, this probably wasn’t it. There were bigger names available on the free agent market, many of them coming with a much higher price tag. But don’t blow off the Gallo signing altogether. There is some logic behind it.

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Sources: Nats signing slugger Gallo for $5 million

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A Nationals club desperate for some left-handed power is addressing that need with a notable, if flawed, addition: Joey Gallo.

Gallo and the Nats have agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $5 million, plus another $1 million in incentives, sources familiar with the deal confirmed. The 30-year-old outfielder/first baseman must still pass a physical, and the team must clear a spot on the 40-man roster before the move is official.

Gallo provides the Nationals lineup exactly what it was lacking: left-handed power. The 2012 first-round pick of the Rangers has hit 198 career home runs, averaging 30.2 in each of his last six full seasons (excluding the shortened 2020 campaign). He’s a two-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove Award winner who figures to play both left field and first base in D.C.

Gallo’s offensive game is not without flaws, though. His career .197 batting average is lowest among all major leaguers with at least 3,000 plate appearances since he debuted in 2015. His 1,190 strikeouts in that same time frame are fifth-most in the majors.

Gallo does draw walks, though, leading the American League with 111 of them in 2021 and producing a .323 career on-base percentage that rates near the overall league average during that time despite his excessively low batting average.

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