Rangers in new home with Gallo back and bolstered rotation

Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward, left, bullpen coach Doug Mathis, second from left, pitching coach Julio Rangel, center front, catcher Blake Swihart, second from right, and pitcher Cody Allen, right, talk after Allen threw in a baseball practice at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, Friday, July 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward, left, bullpen coach Doug Mathis, second from left, pitching coach Julio Rangel, center front, catcher Blake Swihart, second from right, and pitcher Cody Allen, right, talk after Allen threw in a baseball practice at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, Friday, July 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers have All-Star slugger Joey Gallo back and a bolstered starting rotation for their new home stadium.

Texas was 10 games over .500 midway through manager Chris Woodward’s first season, but faded in the second half without their injured All-Star slugger and with mostly inconsistent pitching aside from two veteran workhorse starters.

Gallo is back healthy, from wrist surgery last year and after testing positive for coronavirus. The outfielder missed the first week of summer camp even though he never experienced any symptoms of COVID-19.

After Lance Lynn and All-Star lefty Mike Minor both threw 208 1-3 innings with at least 200 strikeouts last season, Texas filled the rest of the rotation with the additions of two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber through a trade, and veterans Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles in free agency.

There will be only 60 games in the pandemic-delayed season. The unprecedented season sprint opens July 24, when the Rangers finally get to play a game in their new $1.2 billion stadium with a retractable roof.

“It’s like going into August tied for the best record in baseball, tied for a playoff spot,” Woodward said. “And our players understand that.”

The Rangers slipped to finish 78-84 last season, still an 11-win improvement over 2018.

Gallo, who hit 22 homers in 70 games before the surgery on his right wrist, worked out at the new stadium for several weeks before two positive tests for the virus sandwiched a negative result during intake testing. He wondered if he actually ever had coronavirus since he tested negative multiple times on his own before being cleared.