KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros' Jonathan Villar has put himself squarely in the mix to break camp with the team due to his performance so far on both sides of the ball. The Astros are giving Villar, a shortstop by trade, a look at third base and second base, as well as even center field.
If he's going to make the club in a backup role, Villar must prove he can do more than just play shortstop, where he started on Opening Day last year, with mixed results. The Astros signed Jed Lowrie to a three-year deal during the offseason and have top prospectCarlos Correa closing in on the Majors, so Villar's window to start at shortstop in Houston has essentially closed.
Still, Villar is a switch-hitter with tremendous speed on the bases, so he has value. He hit .209 last year but swiped 17 bases in 87 games. He also committed a whopping 18 errors at short.
"He's been terrific this camp," manager A.J. Hinch said. "I'm very proud of his attention to detail. I've been very proud of his openness to move around the field. It's not easy to do for a young player that's been primarily a shortstop his entire career. It's nice to see him hungry enough to be open to the instruction.
"I've played him as much as you could possibly play in Spring Training, and he's shown up every day with a good attitude and is asking questions with [third-base coach] Gary [Pettis] on baserunning stuff. He's really taken ownership of his career. I don't know if he wasn't doing that before. He can help us win by doing something every day."