WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Even the deepest lineup in the big leagues has a "Help Wanted" sign as Spring Training begins this week.The Astros, who are loaded with superstar talent, led by 2017 American League Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve, star shortstop Carlos Correa and 2017 World Series MVP
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Even the deepest lineup in the big leagues has a "Help Wanted" sign as Spring Training begins this week.
The Astros, who are loaded with superstar talent, led by 2017 American League Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve, star shortstop Carlos Correa and 2017 World Series MVP George Springer, are seeking a left fielder for 2018. Qualified candidates who can hit, run and throw are encouraged to apply and some experience is necessary.
• Spring Training information
Astros manager A.J. Hinch already has a list of candidates who might fill the opening, led by up-and-coming outfielder Derek Fisher. The Astros looked for a left fielder in the offseason -- and still could land one prior to Opening Day -- but for now it appears Fisher will get a chance to show what he can do.
"Every year I've gone in with the same mindset and I'm going to do it the same this year," Fisher said. "It's just to compete and win a job. I know in years past it hasn't been that way, but I'm still going to continue to do what I've been doing, as far as picking brains of the guys I get to be around every day. This team we bring back is pretty close to the team we had last year that everybody is going to remember forever."
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The battle for playing time in left field figures to be the Astros' biggest position-player battle this spring, and Fisher will have a legitimate shot to win the job. Best known so far for scoring the game-winning run in Game 5 of the World Series, Fisher as a rookie hit .212 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 53 games across two stints in the big leagues.
His Minor League resume is far more impressive, having hit .318 with 21 homers and 66 RBIs in 84 games at Triple-A last year. Fisher has a rare power-speed combination, but he also struck out at a high rate (54 in 166 plate appearances).
Fisher said he learned plenty last year while in the big leagues.
"I was able to look at a couple of ways to play the game and towards the end, obviously, coming off the bench and being able to be a bench guy and standing around, Cameron Maybin helped me a lot in that time," he said. "It gets overlooked the amount of people I get to play with every day and pick the brains of. I'm pretty lucky in my position."
Marwin Gonzalez, who started in left field in the playoffs, will get some reps in left, along with Tony Kemp. Hinch said veteran outfielder Josh Reddick will play some left, too, with Jake Marisnick vying for playing time in right.
"Obviously, there will be some competition," Hinch said. "We have a versatile enough roster I can mix and match a little bit. Those and the at-bats at DH are going to be the ones that are the most open."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.