WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- After posting career highs during the regular season, then being relegated to watching from the sidelines with a fractured thumb as Houston won the World Series, center fielder Jake Marisnick might be the most anxious of all Astros to begin Spring Training.
"Yeah, I probably am," said Marisnick, who on Tuesday faced live pitching for the first time in nearly seven months. "It feels good to get back in there. It takes a couple of rounds of it and you're good to go. It's been a long time since I've been able to step on the field. So I'm excited to get camp going. I'm excited to be able to run around the field, take some swings."
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Marisnick said the thumb he fractured Sept. 13 is 100 percent.
"I've been hitting a lot," he said. "Hitting is all about timing. It's something that comes with repetition. Obviously, I'm a little bit off on timing, as is everybody here, for not seeing a pitch in a while."
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Having revamped his swing following the 2016 season, Marisnick said he hasn't lost what he learned by being sidelined with the thumb injury.
"It took a little time in the offseason," said Marisnick, who added that the comfort level has returned and he's ready to pick up where he left off.
Marisnick belted a career-high 16 home runs last season in just 106 games. He also set career marks in runs (50), walks (20), OPS (.815), slugging percentage (.496) and on-base percentage (.319). He was 12th in the American League in at-bat to home run ratio (14.38) and led the league with 13 home runs from the ninth spot in the batting order.
Hitting with more lift was a key in his reworked approach.
"Getting away from ground balls to the shortstop, which I did a lot early in my career," said Marisnick, who added that his objective is to get the ball in the air to the middle of the field.
It was a change that worked for him. Marisnick had a 44.9 percent fly-ball rate last season, according to Statcast™. Before last season, he eclipsed 40 percent just once in his career.
"It helps to have solid contact, too," said Marisnick, who blasted 10 of his 16 home runs at an estimated distance of 400-plus feet, and compiled a career-high 28.7 percent hard-hit ball rate.
Now it's just a matter of repetition and timing.
"I already have some of that movement in my body from working on it so much," Marisnick said. "It's sort of what my body resorted to after I picked up a bat, which is good."