Astros' pick for utility man to go down to the wire

Decision likely to be made late in camp; players increase versatility to try to make squad

Astros' pick for utility man to go down to the wire

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Considering many of the players competing for the Astros' utility spot are also vying for starting jobs, manager A.J. Hinch said that role -- as well as the final bullpen spot -- will be one of the final decisions made it camp.

"I think it will be a photo finish," Hinch said.

Marwin Gonzalez, a switch-hitter, did a nice job as the Astros' utility infielder last year, and he can play all over the field, including first base if needed. His spot on the team is likely secure, but players like Jonathan Villar and Matt Dominguez are being asked to try different positions to make the club.

Hinch said Villar, who's a shortstop by trade, will see some time in the outfield in Wednesday's scrimmage against the Braves.

"That's a great tool for him to have," Hinch said. "He's a shortstop first. We've seen him play second base a little so far. We'll see what he looks like in center field in the 'B' game. Who knows? That might increase his possibility of making the club."

Dominguez, a two-year starter at third base, was asked to bring a first baseman's mitt to spring camp, and he'll start appearing in some games at first later this week.

"I want our guys to all be the answer when an opportunity exists," Hinch said. "You want to be that guy that says he can do that. None of this will impact their primary position. It does nothing but add to their possibility of helping us win."

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.