Astros spring training: Could Preston Tucker force his way on the Houston Astros roster?
It has been assumed at the beginning of Astros spring training that Preston Tucker might not initially have a role on the team at the start of the 2016 season. However, recently with the news that Evan Gattis might need some rehab time recovering from the hernia surgery he had recently, Tucker might be able to squeeze onto the opening day roster as the designated hitter while Gattis is getting ready. However, what if Gattis is ready for opening day and Tucker has an unbelievable spring training at the plate, could Tucker force his way onto the roster?
Yes, I know that at this stage of his career, Tucker may be at best the fourth or fifth outfielder on the Astros right now. Tucker will not take the roster spot of George Springer, Carlos Gomez, or Colby Rasmus barring an injury. While Tucker is a better offensively that Jake Marisnick, his defense is nowhere close to Marisnick’s. Also going against Tucker is the fact that Marwin Gonzalez learned how to play outfield last year, so the Astros don’t need to carry five outfielders.
The battle for first base will be an interesting one to follow this spring, but I still feel like Tyler White has the upper hand to win this battle as I wrote here: Houston Astros Bold Roster Prediction: Tyler White Part II. This leaves Matt Duffy and Jon Singleton to potentially battle for a backup corner infielder role. What if all three of the potential options at first base struggle this spring, none of them are really established at the big league level. Yes, I know that Duffy came up last year and was successful in his limited time, but I’m throwing out some what ifs here.
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Let’s say that no one takes control of first base, I’m playing devils advocate here, White can’t handle big league pitching. If Tucker comes into spring and hits 7-8 homers during spring games, he could make Hinch’s roster decisions harder than it already is. Last year, Tucker struggled and developed a hole in his swing during his rookie campaign, but he has worked on it this offseason. If Tucker crushes early in enough in spring training, could he force the Astros hand in getting some reps at first base.
I know the Astros have been vehemently opposed to Tucker playing at first. During an interview with Talking Stros, Tucker said that they have not told him to get ready to play first this offseason. He played first in college, d=so he could return to that position, but why would the Astros transition him to first base when A.J. Reed is waiting to take over first base after the super-two deadline.
With the way the roster is currently structured, it could be hard for Tucker to make the opening day roster unless Gattis is still not ready. Even then, when Gattis is ready, Tucker would be the odd man out unless he hits out of the gate. I think the Astros need Tucker on the 25-man roster, but might be out of ways for him to stay on the roster. What happens with Tucker could be something fun to watch this spring.