Houston Astros: Where is the playing time for Alex Bregman?
By Eric Huysman
Where in the World Baseball Classic is Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman’s playing time?
Eliminated from the World Baseball Classic, Jose Altuve will be returning to Houston Astros Spring camp. While Altuve probably would have wanted to go deeper into the tournament, he is probably ready to come back. With the high expectations of 2017 for the Houston Astros, the players are ready to get the show on the road. Altuve did sit out a game or two, but he was a big part of the Venezuelan team.
Because of necessity, Altuve played third base for team Venezuela one game. Sometimes with big name stars all on the same team, they have to play out of position. Carlos Correa played third base for team Puerto Rico because of Fransisco Lindor. Nori Aoki played center field for Japan. Alex Bregman played shortstop when he plays.
What about Bregman?
That is the problem. Team USA has veteran Brandon Crawford covering shortstop. There is an argument to be made that Crawford is the worst player in the starting nine. Cracking the lineup on Team USA is not easy, especially for someone still trying to establish himself in the MLB. Bregman felt that it was an honor to represent his country in the tournament. However, will his lack of playing time hurt him this year?
There was that one time that he played on March 15, he went two for three with a walk. He did pinch hit for Nolan Arenado in another game, striking out and playing third base. That game, USA beat team Canada 8-0. Earlier in the week, manager A.J. Hinch expressed frustration with Bregman not playing, according to Brian McTaggart. Ironically, Bregman did play the next game but has sat out since that game.
Bregman is young and talented, but this would be his full spring training. He needs consistent at-bats to get ready for the season. This situation is probably new for Bregman too. He has always been one of the better players on the team. Would he have been better staying with the Astros and getting more playing time? Yes, but Bregman probably has no regrets about serving on team USA.
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One benefit is that he gets to watch how stars like Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Adam Jones approach the game. Last year he played with some younger talent in Correa, Altuve, and George Springer. Team USA will play Japan Tuesday in the Championship Round. With so much on the line, will the manager play Bregman?
The future is bright for Bregman, missing a few at-bats during Spring could end up not being a big deal. Bregman got off to a slow start last year with the Astros after not playing for a few days. However, Bregman recovered to bat .264 with eight homers and 34 RBIs batting second. Bregman will most likely bat fifth versus right-handers and second versus left-handers.
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We get to see Correa, Carlos Beltran, and Altuve playing in these games. We want to see Bregman play. Bregman is cocky enough not to let the lack of playing time hurt him. The bright side is that he looked good in the one game he got to play. What do you think, will losing playing time hurt Bregman? We will talk about this on Talking Stros tonight.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and MLB.com***