WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch is still weighing his Opening Day lineup for Monday's game against the Mariners, but he said Wednesday third baseman Alex Bregman will begin the season batting in the No. 2 hole behind outfielder George Springer and ahead of second baseman Jose
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch is still weighing his Opening Day lineup for Monday's game against the Mariners, but he said Wednesday third baseman Alex Bregman will begin the season batting in the No. 2 hole behind outfielder George Springer and ahead of second baseman Jose Altuve.
"He's one of our better hitters," Hinch said. "He got off to a slow start in the big leagues last season and quickly adapted to being a very dangerous hitter. I think hitting in front of Altuve is one of the better places to hit in our order."
Bregman, who handles right-handed pitching well, hit second for the final two months of last season, when he took off and batted .308 with eight homers, 34 RBIs and a .917 OPS in his final 41 games. Hinch moved Bregman into the No. 2 spot while he was still in the midst of his 1-for-32 start for his career and it eventually clicked.
"I feel really good in the box when I get an AB in the first inning," Bregman said. "I feel like it just starts the day the right way. When I get that AB in the first inning, I feel good and I think that helped a lot and it showed a lot of confidence [Hinch] had in me and it really gave me some confidence as well."
Shortstop Carlos Correa will hit fourth, designated hitter Carlos Beltran fifth and outfielder Josh Reddick likely sixth on Monday, though Reddick figures to bounce around the lineup depending on the opposing pitcher.
Reddick will see some time at the top of the order the few times Springer sits, or he will hit second, likely against right-handers on occasion, when Hinch wants to mix things up.
"Performance is going to matter to some extent, but as I've shown in my two years here, I don't mind mixing the order and messing with it," he said. "No matter who I go with on Monday, I'll have three above-average Major League players."
Veteran catcher Brian McCann will hit in the bottom third, along with first baseman Yulieski Gurriel and either outfielder Norichika Aoki or catcher/designated hitter Evan Gattis. Hinch said he's still weighing whether to put Beltran in left field and Gattis at designated hitter on Opening Day, or have Aoki in left field and have Beltran at designated hitter.
"Hitting at the bottom of this order is no slight or no disrespect," Hinch said. "There's going to be any number of guys that hit down there that have never done it before or aren't used to it, but on this particular team that's what's going to be asked of them."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.