Joey Gallo returns to New York ‘more relaxed’ amid resurgence with Dodgers

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Joey Gallo
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

It wasn’t exactly the storybook return to New York for Joey Gallo in his first game back in the Big Apple with his new ballclub. Still, the now Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder returned to the city where he spent a tumultuous year with the Yankees in a much better place on the field and off of it. 

Gallo had come into the opening game of the Dodgers’ three-game set with the Mets on Tuesday without a hit in his last nine at-bats, but the often criticized fielder has refound his form out west since the Yankees traded him at the deadline in July. His batting average dipped to .196 after striking out twice against the Mets, however, he did drive in a run after getting plunked in his second at-bat and he had been batting .205 since the trade going into the night. 

He had also seen a jump in his OPS to .840 going into the series opener and he’s recorded seven RBIs and three home runs in the 18 games with LA. It was a massive jump from the .159 batting average and .621 OPS he had this year in the Bronx. 

“I think it started off pretty well and just the way baseball works sometimes,” Gallo said on Tuesday night. “Obviously been working on things here and trying to hone in on and get back to where I was with Texas. I think it’s also good a change of scenery and whatnot. That’s really it, I’m excited to be here and just be a part of a great team and help any way I can.”

Gallo said that the Dodgers have focused on just getting him back to where he was in Texas and his process. The 28-year-old had been a power hitter with the Rangers batting .223 and clobbering 25 home runs in 2021 before being dealt to the Yankees. 

But that never translated to success with the Yankees and as the wins piled up, the focus on Gallo’s struggles started to become more apparent as the team around him succeeded. He acknowledged that when a player isn’t doing well in a market like New York there is an extra layer of pressure to it all. 

Yankees' Joey Gallo runs the bases.
Yankees’ Joey Gallo runs the bases.AP Photo/Jim Mone

The move to LA, which is also a baseball hotbed, has been a nice change of pace for Gallo. 

“There’s always a lot more scrutiny and whatnot,” He said about New York. “A lot more eyes and attention, so coming from Texas it’s not as much. I kind of do like that feeling of our vibe here is just like, it’s laid back. and try to win games. And try not to make it more than anything than just baseball and playing. I think that’s been nice.” 

While Gallo wouldn’t say outright that he’s become more relaxed, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has certainly noticed that change in him since joining the club. Roberts had told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s game that he had hoped Gallo didn’t too much emphasis on his Big Apple return and that he continued to just do what had made him so successful since the trade.

“He’s much more relaxed and I think he’s playing really well for us,” said Roberts, who admitted he hadn’t seen Gallo play much during his time in the Bronx. “Every time he’s up to bat I feel confident that he’s going to hit the ball hard somewhere. He’s having really good at-bats. Again, I’m happy he’s here with us and I hope he keeps doing what he’s doing.”

Gallo has continued to keep tabs on his old pals in New York, sending Aaron Judge a text to congratulate him o his 50th home run, and had nothing but positive things to say about the players in the locker room. He went as far as to call them “really good friends of mine” on Tuesday night. 

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And with the Dodgers standing as the best team in baseball, Gallo wouldn’t mind seeing his former club in the World Series, if the opportunity presented itself. 

“I get a ring either way. My chances there go up a little bit,” he joked. “But I want the best for those guys. I love those guys there. Just because I got traded doesn’t mean I have any hard feelings for any of them. They work their butts off just like we do over here and I think just from a personal standpoint I hope the best for them as well. … It would be exciting to play them and hopefully there’s a good chance of that.”