Spring Training means different things to different players. Some guys take the entire offseason, well, off. They recuperate their bodies and minds in preparation for next season. Other guys keep grinding through the winter months, trying to stay baseball ready. Some guys travel to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball. The point is, players are all trying to do different things when they arrive in at camp in February.
“I used to think that guys needed 50, 60, 70 at-bats, and the players used to think that, and that’s gone down to 30 or 40 which goes down to 25 or 30,” Houston Astros manager, A.J. Hinch told MLB.com. “I trust my eyes more than a just a number on a stat sheet on how many a guy needs. There are so many guys that are game ready and we still have three weeks [remaining in Spring Training].”
Hinch was talking about Spring Training A.B.s in response to the fact that Jose Altuve, the Astros all-star second baseman, has taken just 11 at bats in the Grapefruit League this spring. Altuve has been suffering from a “left side injury” that’s hampered his ability to play. That said, Hinch isn’t worried.
“We feel very good about the fact this is a minor issue,” Hinch said, according to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggert. “We are going to sit him for a few days and do no activity just to make sure. He’s doing fine, his spirits are up, he’s Jose Altuve. He’ll recover fine. It’s nothing that’s that alarming. I’m not going to do the ‘show up every day and wonder if today’s the day.”
“We’re going to target late in the week at the earliest that he would return simply because where we’re at in the spring. I don’t think it’s good for anybody to be waiting every single day on whether he can play or not. It’s not fair to him or not fair to us.”
Hinch is probably right. Altuve is a prolific talent, and missing time in the Spring isn’t likely to change that. Rather, it’s probably best that he take it easy now, and not risk aggravating his injury. Still, I’m sure both player and manager would prefer that Altuve play. It’s what he loves to do, and he’s a huge part of what makes the Astros… the Astros.