Working with Astros hitting coach John Mallee during the winter seems to be paying early dividends for Astros infielder Brett Wallace.
In three games this spring, he is 4-for-10, including a 3-for-4 performance with a solo home run to deep center field to lead Houston to a 9-4 win over Detroit at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee on Tuesday.
“The ball I hit to center was a changeup, and that was something we worked on, being able to stay on my legs and if it’s not a fastball down the middle that I won’t come out of them and I will stay back on them,” Wallace said. “It’s definitely something we worked on and it’s encouraging and I just have to try to repeat it over and over.”
Wallace knows staying in Houston and working with Mallee at Minute Maid Park was advantageous.
“It's a rhythm and timing thing,” Wallace said. “Malls and me have been in the cage working quite a bit, just trying to get to a point of comfort where I'm in my legs, and down with seeing pitches and recognizing them and putting good swings on it. It's definitely timing and I felt it was a big step in that direction, and I'll try to keep putting it together.”
As for every player, getting reps at the plate this spring is important for Wallace to keep working on his swing, and even though he has been mentioned as the Astros’ main first baseman, it helps that he can play third, the position he played Monday and Tuesday.
“When you look at our roster and the way it constructs, it gives us good flexibility and balance throughout the roster when you have a guy who can play first base, who can play third base, who can also DH,” manager Bo Porter said. “I like to have that flexibility.”
“Honestly, I don't really think about it,” Wallace said. “I am really comfortable at both, so I just come in, look at the lineup, see where Bo wants me and go from there.”
Wallace will play first base for the Astros on Wednesday as they travel to Dunedin to take on the Toronto Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m.