KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- It didn't take long for Astros shortstop Jed Lowrie and second baseman Jose Altuve to get back in the rhythm of playing with each other in the middle of the infield.
The pair, who played together in 2012 in Lowrie's previous stint in Houston, has been reunited this spring after Lowrie signed a free-agent deal with the Astros. Lowrie and Altuve finished the second inning of Saturday's 9-4 loss to the Yankees with a smooth 6-4-3 double play in their first action of Grapefruit League play.
"He's a very smart guy," Altuve said. "I think we've got good communication, and I'm glad to be back with him."
Lowrie and Altuve have been in the same defensive group pretty much every day, so getting back on the same page hasn't been a challenge. Lowrie marveled at what Altuve was able to do with the bat while he played against him in Oakland the past two years.
"Honestly, last year might have validated him publicly, but if anybody inside of baseball didn't think he could hit before last year they didn't know what they were talking about," Lowrie said. "He looks like the same guy who just matured and knows himself and knows the league a little bit more, and I think that is what accounts for even more success."
Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, one of the top ground-ball pitchers in the game, appreciates having a middle infield that's so in sync.
"Very similar-type players," he said. "They play hard. I was used to Lowrie a little bit in '12 when I first made my debut, and I've always been a big fan of his and Altuve's."