Traded to Dodgers, Joey Gallo opens up on struggles with Yankees: 'I hit rock bottom'

Any time a player comes into a new market and fails to live up to expectations it can be mentally and emotionally taxing. And now that Joey Gallo has been traded twice in the span of a year and five days, he's ready for another new start.

Gallo, who the New York Yankees traded Tuesday afternoon to the Los Angeles Dodgers according to multiple reports, struggled during his time in the Bronx and often faced criticism from booing fans.

In an interview Monday with NJ Advance Media, Gallo opened up about his time in New York and detailed how he struggled to adapt and live up to expectations.

"I don’t know how they usually are, but I don’t know how much tougher they can get," Gallo said of Yankees fans. "Pretty much every team we play, players from that team reached out to me to say, ‘Hey, bro, keep your head up. Don’t listen to them.’ "

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When asked which players had reached out, Gallo declined to specify, but he elaborated on how those contacting him added to his emotional struggles and confidence issues.

"I don’t want to say names," he continued. "Kansas City guys reached out to me over the weekend. A bunch of guys. It makes me feel like a piece of (expletive), honestly. I remember playing here with the Rangers, watching (Yankees) get booed off the field and thinking, ‘Holy (expletive)! I feel bad for that guy.’ Now it’s me. I do appreciate people reaching out, but it makes me feel like I’m a problem."

Joey Gallo reacts after making an out against the Red Sox on July 17.
Joey Gallo reacts after making an out against the Red Sox on July 17.

The Texas Rangers traded Gallo on July 28 of last year in a move that was designed to help give the Yankees a much-needed boost to their power hitting. He came into the Yankees' clubhouse with a reputation as a player who was reliable with his glove and one who could swing for power, though he often made himself susceptible to high strikeout totals and low batting averages.

In six-and-a-half seasons in Texas, Gallo had two All-Star Game appearances (in 2019 and 2021) and won two Gold Gloves (in 2020 and 2021). He hit .211 and belted 145 home runs with 317 RBI

But, in his time in the Bronx, even the things he does well were not on display.

Gallo played 140 games for New York and had 501 plate appearances. In them, he hit 25 home runs and totaled just 46 RBI, but hit .159 and struck out 194 times.

Gallo told NJ Advance Media that he rarely went out in New York because he didn't want to show his face in town in light of his struggles but attributed part of his on-field slump to not being as regular a player in a Yankees lineup that is loaded with sluggers.

"I never was able to go off like that," Gallo said. "It’s just weird. In Texas I was playing every day, so it was a little easier to get on a streak. It’s a little tougher not playing every day trying to get that streak going, as well."

Since late May, Gallo has regularly appeared as the Yankees' No. 9 hitter, below less established career hitters such as Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jose Trevino, a mark of how far his stock had fallen.

Shortly after the All-Star break, Gallo did not appear in the starting lineup during the Subway Series, despite the Mets using two right-handed starters and the absence of Giancarlo Stanton, who had just been placed on the injured list (Achilles tendinitis).

“I have a lot of respect for how he worked, how he carried himself,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said after the trade Tuesday. “A lot of us really feel for the situation he was in and the burden he felt and carried. I think a lot of us, myself included, very much hope he goes and kind of recaptures what we know he’s capable of doing. I’ll truly be rooting for him from afar.”

With the acquisition of lefty-hitting Andrew Benintendi in a trade from Kansas City, further infringing on Gallo's playing time, manager Aaron Boone said he's held "open and honest'' communications his embattled lefty slugger.

"I went through a lot of adversity and I really had to question myself a lot," Gallo said. "My confidence suffered. I would say I hit rock bottom for the big leagues. So for me, I just was trying to remember to be a good teammate, play the game the right way, play the game hard and not do something stupid that I’d regret.

"I learned a lot about myself, I guess. Baseball is a tough game. But it definitely made me stronger because not many people have gone through what I’ve gone through."

Gallo was traded Tuesday to the Dodgers for Class AA right handed pitcher Clayton Beeter. Gallo, 28, is eligible for free agency after this season.

"I’m actually really going to miss this team, miss these guys," Gallo said of the Yankees. "It’s going to be really tough to leave these guys. We’ve had a lot of fun. We’re a really close group. But moving on is part of the business. I’m ready."

Contributing: Pete Caldera,

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joey Gallo, traded to Dodgers, opens up on struggles with Yankees