Joey Gallo is happy for ‘fresh start’ far away from Yankees

Joey Gallo is hoping this big market treats him better than the last.

Gallo arrived at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, a day after the Yankees traded him to Los Angeles with hopes of putting his nightmarish time in The Bronx behind him.

“My time in New York didn’t go as well as I wanted it to,” Gallo told Dodgers reporters. “Obviously I wish I played better. … If you don’t play well, they look for somebody else to take that job and do it. But I think it’s nice to get a fresh start and a new clubhouse and a new place on the other side of the country, completely. And just get back to playing baseball again and trying to win games for the Dodgers.”

The Dodgers were targeting a left-handed bat throughout the trade deadline frenzy, and while they were peripheral contenders for Juan Soto, they settled for Gallo. The team feels confident they can bring out the talent that Gallo had displayed before his tenure with the Yankees.

Joey Gallo walks out of the tunnel for the first time as a Dodger.
AP

“Baseball’s hard,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “And so the mind helps the performance. So my hope, our hope is that having a fresh start, having clarity, being open to the Dodgers will tap into that talent that he does have and prove for performance. So there’s certainly an exhale and joy to be out of New York, nothing against the Yankees.”

The Yankees acquired Gallo at the deadline last season, but the slugging outfielder was a disaster in pinstripes.

After leading the league in strikeouts in 2021, Gallo couldn’t right the ship season. He is striking out in almost 50 percent of his at bats and his .159 batting average would be the worst in baseball if he had enough at-bats to qualify.

The Yankees got back Double-A pitcher Clayton Beeter in the deal.

Gallo, who was already sporting the stubble of a beard he couldn’t grow while on the Yankees, is excited to get working with his new teammates and is comforted by the presence of some familiar faces in Los Angeles. He and Cody Bellinger share an agent and are close friends through working out and gaming. He also speaks with Gavin Lux often and played in the minor leagues with Hanser Alberto.

“He’s a tremendous clubhouse guy and baseball player,” Alberto told MLB.com. “He works hard. The coaches here are super smart, we have a lot of technology and there’s a chance he produces like the Gallo of old. Let’s hope that’s the case. He’s always going to work hard and that’s the important part.”

As Gallo gets situated with his new squad, he’ll attempt to find the form he had during his seven years with the Rangers. In seven years with the Rangers he had three 38-plus homer seasons and an .833 OPS. With the Yankees he had 25 total homers with a .660 OPS.

For now he’ll get situated in left field, where he can make an instant impact with his Gold-Glove defense while Chris Taylor rehabs in Triple-A. When Taylor makes his return, the Dodgers will have some decisions to make based on Gallo’s performance.

“Obviously as a hitter it’s never fun to not hit well,” Gallo said. “For me, I tried to see it as a growing experience, a learning experience. Obviously I want to get back being a threat at the plate again and doing damage. But I think I learned a lot about myself in growing through those struggles. I want to be a good hitter, though. I definitely need to hit a little better.”

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