Grossman brings aggressive approach to roster battle

Switch-hitter contending for potential fourth spot in crowded outfield

Grossman brings aggressive approach to roster battle

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The extensive work and adjustments he made in his swing in the winter are paying off for Astros outfielder Robbie Grossman, who's taken advantage of his playing time early in the spring with six hits and two walks in his first 12 plate appearances.

Grossman, who went 1-for-2 with a walk in Monday's 1-0 win over the Blue Jays, has focused on trying to have a more consistent swing path and is trying to see the ball better as he battles for a spot in Houston's crowded outfield picture.

"I'm trying to be as efficient as I can every swing," Grossman said. "Last year, I had some different things going on with my swing where I had to be almost perfect every time I had to swing the bat, and I second-guessed myself a lot. As of right now, I feel good about where I'm at and excited to compete."

Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Grossman's aggressiveness at the plate has stood out.

Grossman's three-hit night

"He's always been a guy who takes a lot of pitches and worked counts," Hinch said. "He's learning that he can handle pitches early in the count, what's a good pitch to hit, and he's taken that approach up and seen some very positive results. I've been very impressed with the quality of his at-bats."

If the Astros carry four outfielders, which is likely, Grossman will probably have to beat out Alex Presley for a spot. Presley, who signed a $1 million deal this year, is out of options, which could help his chances of making the 25-man roster on Opening Day.

"There's a balance of wanting to take the players that can help you the most, and you factor in other areas," Hinch said. "I don't think right now we're prepared to guarantee anything to anybody, regardless of ... how many options a guy has. We're really trying to focus on preparing to have the best team we can. That might create some difficult decisions at the end."

Grossman, a switch-hitter, is intriguing because he's excelled in spurts in the Majors the last two years. He was the Opening Day left fielder a year ago, but he struggled at the plate and in the field and wound up spending more than a month in Triple-A.

Grossman was called up in early July and remained on the Major League roster the rest of of season because he hit .268 with a .366 on-base percentage, 10 doubles, four homers, 26 RBIs and 37 walks in that span of 68 games. He posted a .233. average on the season.

"I know I can play," Grossman said. "They're going to make the decisions."

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.