On-base machine Fontana focused on health

On-base machine Fontana focused on health

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Nolan Fontana has done nothing but get on base at a high rate since the Astros drafted him out of the University of Florida in the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, but it's impossible to get on base when you're injured.

That's why Fontana has made health a focus after he missed the second half of last season after he broke a pinkie finger trying to field a ball, an injury that required surgery. Fontana suffered the injury one day before another shortstop prospect -- former No. 1 pick Carlos Correa -- broke his ankle sliding into a base and was also lost for the rest of the season.

"I had a good offseason and I'm good to go," said Fontana, who appeared in 66 games last year at Double-A Corpus Christi before getting injured. "I don't see it as a setback. Everything happens for a reason, and I firmly believe that. My family has taught me that. At the time, it may not seem like that, but I think everything happens for a reason, and in due time, I'll find out why."

Fontana, who stands 5-foot-11, has a career .427 on-base percentage in his three seasons in the system, hitting .262 last year. His calling card is getting on base and having a great baseball makeup, but scouts think he profiles more as a utility player in the Majors because he doesn't hit for much power.

"There's a pretty good hitter in there in how he controls the strike zone," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "There's a versatile infielder in there. He offers a lot. I'm anxious to watch him play. I saw him play in college and noticed right away he's got a really good baseball rhythm, baseball timing. He always seems to be in the right place. There's some value to him being an overall good baseball player."

The No. 1 thing on Fontana's mind this offseason was proving he was healthy. He had a sprained wrist that sidelined him a couple of weeks in 2013, but the pinkie surgery was his first.

"I'm taking care of my body better than I have in past years by doing little things in the weight room and stuff like that," he said. "I don't know where I'm going to start the season. To me, it's an irrelevant thing right now. I'm trying to impress as a player and stay healthy."

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.