KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch chimed in Friday on the comments made a day earlier by veteran reliever Luke Gregerson, who told reporters he thought he should remain the team's closer despite the addition of hard-throwing Ken Giles.Hinch has kept his thoughts on who will be the Opening
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch chimed in Friday on the comments made a day earlier by veteran reliever Luke Gregerson, who told reporters he thought he should remain the team's closer despite the addition of hard-throwing Ken Giles.
Hinch has kept his thoughts on who will be the Opening Day closer quiet, though the expectation is Giles will be the full-time closer, a position Gregerson held last year.
"I'm proud of Luke for his competitiveness and what he wants," Hinch said. "He and I have had conversations. I know where his desires lie, and I also know that it all fits into the most important thing: getting our team ready to be a championship-caliber team. I don't begrudge him for voicing his opinion.
"I know he's a good teammate, I know he's on board with whatever we do, and he's coming off a successful season. I shrug it off to the sense it's sort of the only news going. We're going to have a good bullpen. He's going to be a part of it, whether he's closing or pitching in another role, and I expect our guys to be good."
Gregerson converted 31-of-36 save chances in his first season with the Astros, going 7-3 with a 3.10 ERA. He's made more appearances (499) than any Major League reliever in the past seven seasons.
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The Astros acquired Giles from the Phillies in exchange for four players in December. He had a 1.80 ERA and 15 saves in 17 opportunities as the Phillies' closer late in the 2015 season, and he gives the Astros the power arm they need. Hinch is in no hurry to announce his closer.
"I've never met a player that doesn't want a prominent role," he said. "There's an excitement of the declaration of this type of stuff that, to me, has no bearing to this time of year."
Hinch was asked if Gregerson's comments would affect how welcome Giles would be in a new clubhouse.
"Everybody that can help us improvement incrementally is welcome with open arms," he said. "These guys are competitive by nature, and that's why they get to this level. When it collides with our day to day, then we deal with it. It's really nothing that is all that noteworthy to this time of year, other than it's exciting to have this buildup of competitive spots."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.