Gattis working to get behind the plate soon

April 13th, 2016

HOUSTON -- Evan Gattis, who was a catcher for two years in Atlanta before playing designated hitter and the outfield last year in his first season with the Astros, on Wednesday did some extra pregame work with manager A.J. Hinch, a former catcher, as he inches closer to getting back behind the plate.

Hinch would like Gattis, who played his first game of the season Tuesday at designated hitter after being sidelined all spring following sports hernia surgery, to be ready to catch soon so the Astros have more lineup flexibility. Gattis has been doing catching drills for quite some time.

"We started in the winter, and it's just the bits and pieces of the position we do the most -- receiving, a little bit of throwing, blocking," Hinch said. "Today, we focused mostly on receiving and different ways to set up and receive the pitch, and then we threw a little bit."

Hinch said the catching position is something you have to practice every day. He said Gattis' body has changed and he can be efficient enough with his movements to be an effective backstop.

"One of the things I've never understood is people thinking this is abnormal to have him catch," Hinch said. "He's a catcher. We just didn't catch him last season based on the fact we wanted to keep him healthy for 500, 600 plate appearances that he hadn't had while he was catching, and we had the liberty of having the DH. He's equipped to handle the position, but he hasn't done it in a year in a single game."

Meanwhile, rookie sensation Tyler White did early work at first base prior to Wednesday's game. The Astros are trying to focus on his defense. More specifically, they want him to catch the ball away from his body, giving him some room for error on throws that move.

"There's an aggressive side of playing first base," Hinch said. "It's not just waiting for the ball to come. These guys throw from different angles with movement, different velocities."

White played mostly third base while coming up in the Minors, but he was used nearly exclusively at first base when he got to Triple-A Fresno last season.

"Everybody throws a little bit differently, so you have to learn where the ball goes. When they throw over the top, maybe it cuts a little bit, kind of the tendencies of infielders, and it's fun learning the position and just getting to play on a daily basis," White said. "I'm getting the basics."