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Aaron Boone has a contrarian take on Joey Gallo: That he’s, in fact, just fine.
“I would suggest he’s off to, at-bat-wise, a good start,” the Yankees manager said of Gallo, who had one hit in the first three games of the season and struck out to end Sunday night’s 4-3 loss to the Red Sox in The Bronx. “Controlling the zone, getting on base, he smoked a couple balls. Tonight I thought had some really good at-bats where he just missed the ball.”
Gallo has never hit for average, but saw those struggles exacerbate upon joining the Yankees last season. After general manager Brian Cashman traded for the slugger at the deadline, Gallo slashed .160/.303/.404, making up in part for his poor average with 13 home runs in a Yankees uniform.
His numbers so far this year are worse.
Gallo has just one hit in his first 10 at-bats, with three walks. Though he did put the ball in play three times on Sunday, flying out in each of them, a batting average of .100 is not what the Yankees would prefer to see from the fifth hitter in their lineup.
At the end of the game, Gallo also capped a terrible ninth inning, striking out on four pitches from Jake Diekman, who punched out Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton before facing Gallo.
“He’s getting to pitches that he wasn’t last year,” Boone said. “Hit a ball the other way, hard to left. Smoked a ball to right. Another walk. Look at what he’s doing. And I think we’re seeing a lot of good at-bats and a guy that, for me, has a lot more [plate] coverage right now.”
Boone is known for squeezing the positive out of everything. However, this feels a bit of a stretch.
Even if Gallo is hitting the ball hard, it’s almost impossible to imagine that the Yankees are OK with his output right now.
Asked to elaborate on where he sees Gallo’s improvement, Boone pointed to his fifth-inning fly out on Sunday.
“That pitch up that he probably wouldn’t have got to last year, he just missed to center field,” Boone said. “I thought he did a good job against the lefty [Matt Strahm] hitting the ball hard to left, the other way.
“Obviously smoked a ball to right for the out. I just feel like he’s putting good swings and good at-bats together right now.”
It’s only three games into the schedule. But surely, the Yankees want Gallo’s good at-bats to start ending in hits sooner rather than later.