WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Astros third baseman Alex Bregman has been dealing with an illness, and he has not been working out the past few days, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. Bregman is expected to be in the lineup on Tuesday, following the Astros’ off-day on Monday.
“Every year, you’re hoping illness doesn’t run through your camp,” Baker said. “He’ll probably be ready to play on Tuesday. He might have been ready today, but with the off-day tomorrow, we’ll want him 100 percent and he’ll play on Tuesday.”
In fact, Baker appears poised to trot out his full lineup Tuesday against the Cardinals for the first time this spring. All of the Astros' expected position-player starters are scheduled to make the short trip to Jupiter, Fla., for Justin Verlander's Grapefruit League debut.
“With an off-day so early in the spring, it only takes a couple of days to lose the progress that you made this early in the year,” Baker said.
Bregman has appeared in two Spring Training games, and he is 2-for-4 with a homer.
Tanielu eyeing more walks
It was a year ago at this time that Nick Tanielu was tearing up the Grapefruit League en route to a scorching spring, during which he hit .353 (18-for-51) with five homers and 18 RBIs in 21 games. Tanielu, who wasn’t going to crack a stacked big league club, got off to a slow start but put up a solid season at Triple-A Round Rock.
Since the Astros have five veteran infielders on their roster, there still doesn’t appear to be a spot on the Major League club for Tanielu this year, but injuries could change that quickly. That’s why Tanieuli is looking to build on his 2019 season and put himself in position to be ready in '20. Last year, Tanielu hit .295 with 39 doubles, 19 home runs and 84 RBIs at Round Rock.
“I had a slow start to the season last year, so I’m trying to get out to a better start,” Tanielu said. “There’s some stuff we’re working on right now. It’s kind of like a grind, a long season. Just trying to be ready and not have such bad slumps at times, because last year, I really struggled early in the season. I’m trying to do whatever they ask -- play around the infield. If they need me to go the outfield, I would do that, too.”
Tanielu wants to improve his power this year, but he also wants to walk more. That means swinging at better pitches, picking a part of the zone to look for the ball and taking advantage of it -- and being ready if there’s an opportunity in Houston. In Sunday's 5-4 walk-off win, he drew a walk and scored a run.
“It kind of gives you a little bit of motivation,” Tanielu said. “Now it’s like, go out there and play and be the best I can and help the team any way I can. That’s what we’re all here for. If not, you have to go back to the drawing board.”
Justin Verlander, who won the 2019 American League Cy Young Award, will make his first start of the spring when the Astros meet the Cardinals at 12:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday in Jupiter, Fla., live on MLB.TV. Verlander was set back slightly last week by some discomfort in his right groin, but the issue has resolved itself.