As his time with the New York Yankees drew to a sad end, Joey Gallo could not hide his anxiety.
“I don’t go out,” he told NJ.com this week. “I really don’t want to show my face too much here.”
Like a new chapter Dodgers Started Wednesday, just 24 hours after the 28-year-old slugger was sent to Los Angeles in exchange for a deadline, a smiling Gallo couldn’t contain his excitement.
“I had a good idea that I was being moved,” he said. “But then they called me and said, ‘Hey, you’re going to Los Angeles.’ I was excited.”
Until Tuesday, Gallo had little to celebrate this season.
In 82 games with the Yankees, he had a disastrous .159 batting average and 106 strikeouts in 273 games. Even with 12 home runs, he only had 24 RBIs and a .621 on-base percentage plus misses.
When the news about his acquisition by the Dodgerswho sent in replacement promising candidate Clayton Beeter, it didn’t quite capture the imagination of the fans who dreamed of Juan Soto.
For Gallo, however, the change of scenery was a sigh of relief.
“My stay in New York didn’t go as well as I wanted it to,” he said. “It’s nice to start over.”
Starting his career with the Texas Rangers, where he was a two-time All-Star and one of the sport’s highest-scoring left-handers with consecutive 40 home run seasons in 2017 and 2018, Gallo spent time in New York. York really was a disaster.
He was traded there at the deadline last year and immediately started to struggle, batting just .160 on the stretch and winning 0-for-4 in the team’s playoff loss to the Boston Red Sox.
When his production failed again this season, the Yankees fan base began to turn their backs on him.
He was booed in the stadium. He stopped going out in public near his home in Manhattan.
In an interview like the one he gave on mondayhe talked about the losses that all this imposed on him.
“In almost every team we play with, the players from that team have approached me to say, ‘Hey bro, keep your head up. Don’t listen to them,” he told NJ.com ahead of the deal, adding, “Honestly, it makes me feel like a piece of shit.”
But while talking to reporters at Oracle Park before the Dodgers game against giants on Wednesday – he was out of the squad as he is still “gaining momentum” at his new club – Gallo seemed much more at ease.
His beard is back after sticking to the Yankees’ facial hair policy last year.
He was encouraged by early conversations with manager Dave Roberts and other staff at the club who have ideas on how Gallo can rediscover his old kit.
He was happy not only to join a rival team, but also to one in which he already has several friends in the form of Gavin Lux, Hanser Alberto and Cody Bellinger.
“[His talent] there, he didn’t disappear,” said Bellinger, who met Gallo through their mutual agent Scott Boras. “He’s a gifted athlete, man. Can hit for power, great defense, really good dude. So I know I’m glad to see him at the club.”
Most of all, Gallo looked forward to a fresh start with the Dodgers, who hoped he would be a profitable addition to the deadline, able to increase the length and versatility of their lineup, perhaps as a platoon player with extra defense in left field.
“We feel there is some real upside,” said President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. “A year ago today, his industry value was significantly higher, and the same level of true talent is still in place.”
Gallo’s skill set was also one of the most distinctive in the game.
The 6ft 5in, 250lb Slugger, who also has two Golden Glove awards in the outfield, is the king of three true plate finishes: since his first full season in 2017, he has been ranked 13th in big home runs, 12th in walks and first in strikeouts.
“I’m a strange player, I think a unique player,” he said. “But a player who can help the team win. I know it.”
He was less sure why he was having such a hard time in New York.
“Baseball is a tough game,” he said. “Sometimes things don’t go your way. You are trying to start doing different things. And as soon as you struggle, especially in a place like this, you start to feel it a little more. You are trying to do too much. And sometimes it can get in the way.”
Roberts said that on the first day, he had a simple request to Gallo: “Just to take advantage of this new opportunity, start over.”
Gallo seemed to have done this before – giving a thumbs up to a young pre-game fan who asked how he liked the Dodgers so far.
“Obviously I want to be a menace on the plate again and deal damage,” Gallo said. “I think I learned a lot about myself by developing in this fight. However, I want to be a good striker. I definitely need to hit a little better.”
Blake Trainen (shoulder) played a simulated game on Wednesday and, depending on how he feels in the coming days, could be on the verge of starting a rehab assignment, according to Roberts. … Brousdar Graterol (shoulder) hit 100 mph in Wednesday’s bullpen session, Roberts said, and is “very close” to running into hitters.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.