WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- If you weren't paying attention to the latter stages of Wednesday's game between the Astros and Mets, you might have missed it. A.J. Reed beat the shift with a single to left field and cranked a homer to right field off a left-hander -- both great signs.
Reed, the left-handed slugger who was the team's top prospect a year ago, faces an uphill climb to make the Opening Day roster. But the fact that he's swinging the bat so well is a good sign for the Astros. Reed entered Thursday's game hitting. 353 with a .450 on-base percentage, two homers and five RBIs in Grapefruit League play.
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"It's been a really good spring so far," Reed said. "I'm just trying to have good at-bats and hit the ball hard and swing at the right pitches. Right now, I'm seeing the ball well and having some good swings."
Reed would have had another homer earlier in the spring on a ball he crushed to right field when the wind was blowing in at about 30 mph.
After Teoscar Hernandez homered in Wednesday's game, Astros manager A.J. Hinch joked that he would have to start Hernandez on Thursday. When Reed reminded him he didn't start the following game after hitting a homer earlier in the spring, Hinch joked that it was a new rule. Reed homered in his next at-bat and was in the lineup Thursday.
"Reed's at-bats have been better in the last couple of games," Hinch said. "The base hits to left against the shift, the pull homer in the air was very impressive."
Reed hit .164 in 122 at-bats in his big league debut last year, including .067 (1-for-15) against lefties. He hit .291 with 15 homers and 50 RBIs in 261 at-bats at Triple-A Fresno last year, including .256 with four homers and 17 RBIs in 78 at-bats against southpaws.
"It's definitely good to get the results," Reed said. "I'm not focused on end results, just hitting the ball hard. Eventually, if you do that over time, you get results. It's been really good."