Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

White can land spot if he shows versatility

After earning AL Player of the Week as a rookie to open 2016 season, 26-year-old struggled
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The biggest feel-good story emerging from Astros camp last year came when infielder Tyler White made the Opening Day roster. The good vibes continued into the regular season, when White became the first rookie position player in American League history to earn the Player of the Week for the first week.

As far as highlights go, that was about it for White, who was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on June 17 and bounced between the Minors and Houston the rest of the summer. White found some success in September, hitting .263 with five RBIs, and he went .462 (6-for-13) for the season as a pinch-hitter.

View Full Game Coverage

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The biggest feel-good story emerging from Astros camp last year came when infielder Tyler White made the Opening Day roster. The good vibes continued into the regular season, when White became the first rookie position player in American League history to earn the Player of the Week for the first week.

As far as highlights go, that was about it for White, who was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on June 17 and bounced between the Minors and Houston the rest of the summer. White found some success in September, hitting .263 with five RBIs, and he went .462 (6-for-13) for the season as a pinch-hitter.

View Full Game Coverage

Having shed about 30 pounds from where he was a year ago and having a fresh outlook on the game, White again is looking to buck the odds and make the club out of camp. Unless the Astros carry 12 pitchers or there are injuries, there's probably not room for White on the Opening Day roster, but he's looking to put himself in a good spot.

Spring Training: Tickets | Schedule | Ballpark | Gear | Coverage

"I can't make those decisions, so I don't really think about it," White said. "All I can do is come out here and perform and see what happens. That's what I plan on doing, putting together good at-bats every day and doing whatever I can to be able to help this team out."

White, 26, won't be short any playing time this spring. With starting third baseman Alex Bregman and second baseman Jose Altuve at the World Baseball Classic, White will see time at those positions, as well as first base, for at least the next week.

"I want to see how versatile he is," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's going to get some time at second base, he'll get some time at third base and trying to make him more comfortable on this particular team as a utility option. He's still primarily a first baseman and can DH a little bit, but the more time we can see him at second and third, that makes him at the very least a viable bench candidate. He'll get to play quite a bit with minimal pressure. He's a good enough player to handle it."

After hitting .667 (10-for-15) with three homers and nine RBIs in the Astros' first five games of 2016, White hit .188 with five homers and 19 RBIs in his final 234 big league at-bats. White excelled at every level of the Minor Leagues, so his first brush with failure was humbling.

"I had never been through a real struggle," he said. "It was good to feel that. I had to learn how to get out of that. Even when I went down to the Minor Leagues, I was still struggling a little bit down there to start out. I think it was just my confidence had gone, and once I got a little boost of confidence down there, I started hitting again. And for the most part once I came back up, I hit pretty well.

"I think it was just getting that out of me and learning to deal with some tough times and some struggles and just going out there every day and forgetting about the day before, whether was good or bad, and playing the game."

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

Houston Astros, Tyler White