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Springer, Bregman homer as Astros find rhythm

Altuve notches first two spring hits; Armenteros continues to impress
@brianmctaggart
March 4, 2019

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The core of the Astros' lineup has been crushing the ball this spring, with outfielder George Springer and third baseman Alex Bregman both cranking their first home runs of the spring in Monday's 7-4 split-squad loss to the Mets at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The core of the Astros' lineup has been crushing the ball this spring, with outfielder George Springer and third baseman Alex Bregman both cranking their first home runs of the spring in Monday's 7-4 split-squad loss to the Mets at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. All-Star second baseman José Altuve also had his first two hits of the spring.

"I'm starting to feel better and get in the rhythm that I need," said Altuve, who had surgery to repair a broken kneecap immediately following last season.

Springer hit an opposite-field homer to right-center in the first inning off Corey Oswalt, and Bregman hammered a homer to center field in the fifth off right-hander Walker Lockett. Catcher Garrett Stubbs also homered, sending a mammoth blast down the right-field line in the seventh inning off right-hander Paul Sewald.

Bregman, who had surgery Jan. 11 to remove bone chips in his right elbow, was playing in only his second Grapefruit League game.

"It's a step in the right direction," he said. "I've still got a long way to go with my swing. But I felt good today. That ball felt good off the bat. At Minute Maid, it's probably caught. It's deep out there. It's good to be out there with the guys again."

Bregman also tested his right arm by backhanding a ball at third base and making a long throw on a hop across the diamond for an out.

"My right arms feels awesome," he said. "I could go throw again right now. It feels great. No pain, nothing. No tightness either. Just continue to do some maintenance on it and it feels good."

Springer said the early results at the plate are the product of his teammates' work early in camp after arriving in great shape.

"I think Carlos looks great," Springer said. "Alex looked great today. Jose got his standard-issue Jose hits. It's a good spring so far, but it's also good to get in there and kind of not be concerned about the results, making sure you want to have a good at-bat and hit something hard."

Armenteros has eyes on Houston
There's probably not a spot on the Astros' roster for right-hander Rogelio Armenteros, which means he's likely going to be in the starting rotation at Triple-A for the third consecutive year. Astros manager AJ Hinch hinted last spring that Armenteros could reach the big leagues in 2018, but there wasn't a spot for him.

Known for his tumbling changeup, Armenteros looked sharp while throwing three scoreless innings against the Mets on Monday, allowing two hits with one strikeout and no walks. His changeup is so deceptive he's able to pitch effectively with average breaking pitches and low-90s fastballs.

"Every day I'm working with the pitching coaches and in the bullpen to better my breaking ball, and it's going well," he said.

Armenteros went 8-1 with a 3.74 ERA in 22 games (21 starts) last year at Triple-A Fresno with 134 strikeouts and 48 walks in 118 innings. He was 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 10 starts at Fresno in 2017. The Astros are moving their Triple-A affiliation to Round Rock this year, meaning Armenteros won't be back in Fresno, but he's eyeing Houston.

"I'm going to do everything I can so that decision is made, to keep me here in Houston," he said.

Worth noting
Outfielder Josh Reddick, who was hit on the right hand by a pitch in the second inning against the Mets, is day to day with a contusion, the team said. X-rays were negative.

Up next

Brad Peacock, who's battling with Framber Valdez for the fifth spot in the rotation, makes his second start of the spring on Wednesday when the Astros meet the Marlins at 12:05 p.m. CT at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. The Astros are off Tuesday.

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