CLEVELAND -- With injuries to outfielders Josh Reddick and Derek Fisher, only one thing is for certain in the Astros' outfield: George Springer will start every day. Otherwise, manager AJ Hinch is happy to mix and match.The Astros do have plenty of options. Tony Kemp has been on fire at
CLEVELAND -- With injuries to outfielders Josh Reddick and Derek Fisher, only one thing is for certain in the Astros' outfield: George Springer will start every day. Otherwise, manager AJ Hinch is happy to mix and match.
The Astros do have plenty of options. Tony Kemp has been on fire at the plate since he was recalled a week ago, and Jake Marisnick is known for his great glove. Infielders Marwin Gonzalez and J.D. Davis are capable of filling in in left field, but they will be in the lineup more for their bats.
"I want to play the guys that can help us win that game," Hinch said. "I like having options. I like using the whole roster. I think it's an advantage that we have guys that can move around -- even within the outfield. Having Tony go left to center. Having George go from right to center. Jake can move around. Marwin can play more positions if I'd let him.
"I like the matchup capabilities in the outfield more than I like having a left fielder, a center fielder and a right fielder on this particular team. Now that may change in my career, playing the roster that I have, but this team we need to move guys around."
Kemp, a 5-foot-6 sparkplug, will be the closest to an everyday outfielder alongside Springer, who led all regulars with 10 home runs out of the leadoff spot while hitting .294 entering Thursday. In six games prior to Thursday, Kemp was 6-for-15 with three walks and has provided a second leadoff-type hitter in the No. 9 hole for the top of the lineup to drive home.
Coming into the season, Kemp had a career .217/.287/.306 slash line and never got consistent at-bats in the Majors. But now that he's been thrust into an everyday role due to injuries -- moving Springer to right field -- Kemp has taken advantage of his opportunity.
"From an at-bat quality standpoint, he's been very good at staying in the strike zone," Hinch said. "He's been a very difficult out, and he's putting the bat on the ball. He's keeping the ball low, which is very important for somebody of his size and his style of game. He's drawing a few walks, and that success has built some confidence. He knows he can contribute every day."
Hinch said he'd like to give Marisnick and Davis playing time, but that may be difficult against Cleveland's rotation full of tough right-handers. Marisnick did start in center field on Thursday while Kemp was in left. Hinch noted that Gonzalez has had great success against the Indians, so he likely will play all series.
The "soft platooning," as Hinch calls it, will continue for the foreseeable future until Fisher and/or Reddick return from the 10-day disabled list. Hinch said Fisher (gastrointestinal discomfort) will likely head to a Minor League affiliate this weekend to resume baseball activities, while Reddick (left leg skin infection) is resting in Houston and can't do much until his infection improves.
Ben Weinrib is a contributor to MLB.com.