WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Many of the Astros' young players will take center stage this weekend when the club opens Grapefruit League play with a pair of road games, beginning with Saturday's 12:05 p.m. CT game (on Gameday Audio) against the Tigers at Lakeland, Fla. Right-hander Brad Peacock will
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Many of the Astros' young players will take center stage this weekend when the club opens Grapefruit League play with a pair of road games, beginning with Saturday's 12:05 p.m. CT game (on Gameday Audio) against the Tigers at Lakeland, Fla. Right-hander Brad Peacock will start for Houston.
The only regular making the trip will be third baseman Alex Bregman, who's expected to be in the lineup. Shortstop Carlos Correa will play Sunday against the Braves in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and the rest of the regulars, including second baseman Jose Altuve and outfielders George Springer, Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick, won't play until Monday.
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Outfielder Norichika Aoki will play in left field Saturday and center field Sunday before he leaves Monday for Japan to prepare for the World Baseball Classic.
"I'd like our guys to be able to play hard," manager A.J. Hinch said. "They all have things we communicated for them to work on and identify as an area of emphasis, but for the most part, as far as evaluation goes, you're always evaluated with how you carry yourself, how you play, what you do.
"You're not going to make the team, for some of the younger guys, on the first day or the first week, so it's a little more about physically getting back into the baseball day to day. I want them to do well. I want our pitchers to throw strikes, I want our hitters to compete at the plate. We're not looking through the same lens that we will in week, to week two to week three to week six to the season."
The Astros don't have many spots open on their 25-man roster, but Hinch said health will be a key thing he watches when Grapefruit League play starts. The Astros won't play in the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches until Tuesday, in a game in which they will be the road team facing the Nationals.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.