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Hinch focused on giving star players days off

Bregman out of lineup Wednesday; manager sticking with Marisnick
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

OAKLAND -- Astros manager AJ Hinch admitted Wednesday he hasn't done a good job of keeping players fresh, which means he's going to keep resting his regulars as much as he believes it's warranted. That meant starting third baseman Alex Bregman was out of the lineup Wednesday.

"We played until Nov. 1 last year, and I did not do a great job of resting the guys along the way," Hinch said.

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OAKLAND -- Astros manager AJ Hinch admitted Wednesday he hasn't done a good job of keeping players fresh, which means he's going to keep resting his regulars as much as he believes it's warranted. That meant starting third baseman Alex Bregman was out of the lineup Wednesday.

"We played until Nov. 1 last year, and I did not do a great job of resting the guys along the way," Hinch said.

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Hinch marveled at how fresh shortstop Carlos Correa looked in Tuesday's series opener against the A's after missing four games in Texas with right side discomfort. Correa crushed a homer on the first pitch he saw and threw several lasers across the diamond on balls he fielded at shortstop.

Video: HOU@OAK: Correa launches a solo home run to left

"That is a true indication that rest matters in our sport," Hinch said. "We have a good enough team, and we have a deep enough team, guys are going to get a day off. I wish we could play like robots and super humans that play every single day for every single inning and every single series, but it's not the way it's going to be. There's going to be sometimes where your favorite player is not playing or your best player doesn't play. I'm committed to it, and I'm going to do it."

Astros outfielder George Springer played in 162 games in 2016 and 140 in the regular season last year, missing time with a left quad injury. Springer has played in 67 of the Astros' first 69 games this year. Even when he was out of the lineup one game last month, he still got two at-bats.

"Rest, as a whole, is very important when you're trying to play eight months, nine months of the season, coming off a season where you played eight months the year before," Hinch said.

Hinch sticking with Marisnick through struggles
When asked why struggling outfielder Jake Marisnick continues to play, Hinch said it's important not to bury the veteran outfielder. Marisnick was hitting .153 entering Wednesday with 58 strikeouts in 122 plate appearances and only three walks.

"I know he's had a tough time with the bat, but I think we should circle back to a couple of games where he impacted it with a base hit, he got a bunt base hit, he's run down some balls in the outfield," Hinch said. "He's a Major League player, he's on our team, he can run the bases. We've got to find a way to get his bat going. … He's not going to get better by sitting on the bench for a week at a time until people are not mad at him or want him to play. It's important for him, to have a complete team, for him to have a way to contribute."

In Wednesday's 13-5 win over the A's, Marisnick went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, while also robbing a home run with a leaping catch in center field.

Video: HOU@OAK: Marisnick takes away a HR, then crushes one

Marisnick has brought value on defense and on the bases, but entering Wednesday, he had struck out 47.5 percent of the time this year, which is a career worst. He struck out 34.7 percent of the time in '17 and 26.7 percent in '16.

"The contact rate needs to come up, and he's continually working at that," Hinch said. "Mentally, it's been a grind for him to feel good about it. When he went down to the Minor Leagues [for eight days late last month], he got to decompress a little bit.

"When he first came back, he had a couple of really good games with the bat, and it was good for him to contribute that way. Like any sort of bad outcome, if you start getting a couple of those in a row like he did at Texas [last weekend] or in the last homestand, it can pile up on you."

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

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