Hinch planning to ease veterans into spring games

Hinch planning to ease veterans into spring games

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he's going to ease his veterans into action when Grapefruit League play begins. The Astros open their spring season against the Phillies on Thursday at Osceola County Stadium, but Hinch said American League batting champion Jose Altuve and shortstop Jed Lowrie won't play until Saturday.

Hinch didn't reveal his full lineup for the Phillies game on Wednesday, but catcher Jason Castro will be the designated hitter for the first couple of games.

"We have a lot of moving parts to where we have to play guys all over the field, but I'm going to try to keep guys consistently in a position for a couple of days and move them around," Hinch said. "With your infielders, they've got to play all over the field. Outfielders, I've got to be a little more disciplined with playing guys in one spot a few games in a row and then move them, rather than play left field one day, center the next, left field the next."

Hinch has planned the lineup for each game in advance as much as he can, taking into account the various position battles and service time. Veterans like Lowrie, Castro, Colby Rasmus and even Altuve won't make some of the longer trips of the spring.

"We know the position battles that are there," Hinch said. "First things first, we want to get guys in games and in game action and start them out with half games and build their endurance. There's a lot of players to sort through."

Every player will play Sunday, when an Astros split squad faces the Braves in Kissimmee and the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla. Hinch said he will travel to the game in Lakeland, while bench coach Trey Hillman will manage the club in Kissimmee.

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.