Lowrie, Valbuena find comfort in new surroundings

Newcomers settle in around familiar faces, setting

Lowrie, Valbuena find comfort in new surroundings

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Coming to a new team usually doesn't feel as comfortable as slipping on an old pair of shoes.

But Jed Lowrie, who signed with the Astros in December after playing two seasons in Oakland, arrived at camp on Monday to find he had the same locker at Osceola County Stadium he had when he spent the 2012 season with the Astros. He also saw several of his former Oakland teammates, including Dan Straily, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek.

"Not only that, but there's guys that I've played with here in 2012," Lowrie said as he got his locker situated. "It's a new manager [A.J. Hinch], there's a new feeling. So I think it's exciting. It's about as comfortable as it could be for a new team."

Lowrie was one of several position players who showed up at camp Monday, one day before the mandatory date to report. Some position players, such as Evan Gattis, George Springer, Jon Singleton and Robbie Grossman, have been in camp for a few days, and they were joined by Gregorio Petit, Joe Sclafani, Nolan Fontana, Domingo Santana, Jake Marisnick and Andrew Aplin, among others.

Astros add Valbuena, Straily

Another newcomer, third baseman Luis Valbuena, also reported Monday. He was acquired in the Dexter Fowler trade with the Cubs a month ago and also was greeted some familiar faces in fellow countrymen Marwin Gonzalez and Jose Altuve.

"I feel happy because they put their eye on me and I'm so happy because they gave me an opportunity to play for the Astros," Valbuena said.

As far as getting a chance to play with Altuve, Valbuena was thrilled. He said he's known Altuve since he signed as a 16-year-old.

"That kind of guy had 200 hits for one year, he knows he can play," Valbuena said. "It's amazing you see the numbers he put up last year."

Lowrie and Altuve occupied the middle of the Astros' infield in 2012, and Lowrie wasn't surprised to see Altuve do what he did at the plate last year. Altuve had a franchise record 225 hits and won the batting title by hitting .341.

"He's shown that ability every year in the big leagues," Lowrie said.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.