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Hinch not worried about Altuve's health

Astros second baseman has been dealing with left side soreness
@brianmctaggart
March 10, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros manager AJ Hinch maintained on Sunday that he’s not worried about the health of All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve, who was scratched from Saturday’s Grapefruit League starting lineup for the second time in three games with left side soreness. Hinch said on Sunday that

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros manager AJ Hinch maintained on Sunday that he’s not worried about the health of All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve, who was scratched from Saturday’s Grapefruit League starting lineup for the second time in three games with left side soreness.

Hinch said on Sunday that Altuve will be held to a couple of days of limited or no baseball activity to not aggravate the injury, with hopes he can get into a game later in the week. Altuve was examined in Florida by head team physician Dr. David Lintner.

“We feel very good about the fact this is a minor issue,” Hinch said. “We are going to sit him for a few days and do no activity just to make sure. He’s doing fine, his spirits are up, he’s Jose Altuve. He’ll recover fine. It’s nothing that’s that alarming. I’m not going to do the 'show up every day and wonder if today’s the day.'

“We’re going to target late in the week at the earliest that he would return simply because where we’re at in the spring. I don’t think it’s good for anybody to be waiting every single day on whether he can play or not. It’s not fair to him or not fair to us.”

Altuve only has 11 at-bats during Grapefruit League play so far, but Hinch isn’t worried about the former batting champion and American League Most Valuable Player Award winner getting enough at-bats in order to get ready for the season.

“I used to think that guys needed 50, 60, 70 at-bats, and the players used to think that, and that’s gone down to 30 or 40 which goes down to 25 or 30,” Hinch said. “I don’t know how may hits our guys have. I trust my eyes more than a just a number on a stat sheet on how many a guy needs. There are so many guys that are game ready and we still have three weeks [remaining in Spring Training].”

Bagwell visits Astros camp

Hall of Fame slugger Jeff Bagwell will be in Astros camp for a week, and he got right to work Sunday. He spent several minutes on the back fields at the FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches working at first base with outfielder Josh Reddick, who may be asked to play first base in a pinch this season.

Reddick has played only one inning at first base in his big league career, which came on April 15, 2017, when he pinch-ran for Carlos Beltran in the eighth inning in Oakland and volunteered to finish the game at first base. No balls were hit in his direction.

“Today was the first time I’ve been nervous over there because he was there,” Reddick said about Bagwell, who started at first base for the Astros from 1991-2005. “It was good. What better guy to learn from than a guy who’s done it for so long and is enshrined forever in baseball history because of it.

“It’s still a learning process for me. I don’t think I’ll get the full effect until the game comes around because you can do as many ground balls as you want but until you get to game speed you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Reddick, who arrived at camp with a new first baseman’s mitt, said Hinch told him he’s always a pinch-hit or pinch-run away from having to fill in at first base.

“It’s something we can only hope not only benefits the team, but benefits myself and makes me a little more versatile,” Reddick said.

Bagwell’s best advice to Reddick? Catch the ball.

“The benefit of being a first baseman is being able to body it up and still flip it to your pitcher being there,” Reddick said. “That and getting to the bag, knowing where the bag is is a big thing, and your footwork at the base is a big thing. Receiving throws is going to be a big step.”

Perez feels prepared

Left-hander Cionel Perez threw a live bullpen session Sunday morning and is expected to get into his first Grapefruit League on Wednesday. A candidate to win the final spot in the bullpen, Perez didn’t throw much, at all, if the offseason, which put him behind heading into camp.

“I definitely feel 100 percent prepared,” he said when asked if he’ll be ready for the season.

Perez is a starter, but the Astros have a spot open at the back of the bullpen for a lefty. Framber Valdez, who’s battling for the fifth starter spot, is a candidate for that position along with Reymin Guduan and Perez, who made his big-league debut last year.

“I’m going to do whatever role is asked of me at the Major League level,” he said. “I’m working on my routine at coming out of the bullpen as a reliever. As I’ve said before, I’m willing to do any role that we’ve got.”

Up next

Right-hander Brad Peacock, a candidate to be the team's fifth starter, will make his third Grapefruit League start when the Astros face the Mets at 12:05 p.m. CT Monday at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.