Hinch tweaking spring approach due to '17 Classic

February 23rd, 2017

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The upcoming World Baseball Classic is an exciting time for those participating, but it can also be somewhat of a challenge for managers trying to prepare their teams for the 2017 season.

Eight players from Astros camp will cut into their Spring Training for the opportunity to represent their respective countries in the event.

Does it give Hinch an opportunity to look at some other players in the spring?

"Well, it more forces me to," Hinch said. "I'd like to have all of our team here, but I'm happy that those guys get to go and experience a little unique time.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

"I'll miss having those guys around and certainly it provides an opportunity for some of the guys. We'll see how long each guy is gone, but it may force me to play a few people out of position."

Hinch said that would see time at both second and third base, and that may play a game at shortstop.

Hinch added that Astros newcomer would travel with the team this weekend for the opening of the Grapefruit League season and then leave for Japan. He said (USA) would travel with the team on Saturday and that (Puerto Rico) would travel on Sunday.

"There's a fine line with the WBC," Hinch said. "I want to get them up and running, but I also want to make sure they've got enough work.

"We've cut a couple of work days due to the length of the entire Spring Training, so I want to make sure that those guys are getting enough BP. And after this live BP they get a couple of days of regular BP and then they'll start playing next week."

Hinch said he likes what he's seen so far from Aoki, who boasts a .286 lifetime batting average over five Major League seasons.

"I know he's working hard to be ready for the WBC," Hinch said. "He's already told me he wants to play nine innings in both games leading up to it. So that will be a first for a guy with significant service time or experience to play so early so long.

"But he wants to make sure he's prepared, so we'll play him in left field on Saturday and center field on Sunday, and then wish him well in the WBC."

Aoki will play center field for Japan, and Hinch hopes to get him a few innings at the position before he heads back to Japan.

(Venezuela), (Puerto Rico) and non-roster invitee (Colombia) leave on March 6. (Canada), Luke Gregerson (USA) and Bregman (USA) are also likely to leave that day.