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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Kristie Ackert

Joey Gallo is off to a good start ‘at-bat wise’: Aaron Boone

Jake Diekman needed just four pitches to finish off the Yankees Sunday night.

The Red Sox lefty faced Joey Gallo and got the Bombers left fielder to strike out on just four pitches to cap Boston’s 4-3 win at the Stadium. It was the fourth time in 10 at-bats he struck out this season. He has one hit in the first three games.

Despite Gallo’s rough start to his time in pinstripes after coming over to the Yankees last July at the trade deadline, Aaron Boone isn’t worried about him not finding any results.

“I would suggest he’s off to, at-bat-wise, a good start,” Boone told reporters after the game. “Controlling the zone. Getting on base. Smoked a couple of balls. Tonight, I thought, he had really good at-bats where he just missed the ball.

“He’s getting to pitches that he wasn’t getting to last year,” the Yankees manager said, pushing back against a question that suggested Gallo was struggling. “Just missed a ball to center. 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 in a guy that, for me, has a lot more coverage right now.”

Gallo did hit some strikes hard Sunday, recording exit velocities of 113 and 110 miles per hour on outs.

The issue is that Gallo did struggle once he came to the Yankees last year. Gallo slashed .160/.303/.404 with a .707 OPS but did have 13 home runs in a Yankees uniform. He struck out 88 times in his 188 at-bats as a Yankee.

That is who the 28-year-old outfielder is as a hitter. In the past, his walk rate and power numbers made his high strikeout rate tolerable.

Boone, however, sees improvement from last year.

“I just feel like he’s putting good swings and good at-bats together right now,” Boone said.

Like Sunday night, Gallo was certainly not the only offensive issue last season. That resulted in the Yankees shaking up Boone’s staff and promoting Dillon Lawson from minor league hitting coordinator to big league hitting coach.

So far, the Yankees offense has not looked drastically different. They are in the middle of the pack with 13 runs scored through three games with the majority of that coming on home runs. The Bombers have hit seven homers this season.

Boone saw a lot of encouraging signs though.

“Just looking at the at-bats as a whole in the series,” Boone said, “I feel like we put a lot of good at-bats up. Even hit some balls on the screws today for outs. We want to create those opportunities. We couldn’t get that big one to really break anything open today. That’s part of it. But overall I like the way we’re swinging the bats and the at-bats the guys are having.

“We just keep giving ourselves that opportunity.”

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