Wojciechowski's 'compete button' impresses Hinch

Wojciechowski's 'compete button' impresses Hinch

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Astros rookie right-hander Asher Wojciechowski can rest peacefully Tuesday night knowing he did everything he could to force the club to make some tough decisions about whether he breaks camp with the Major League club.

On the eve of the Astros setting their 25-man roster, Wojciechowski didn't have his best secondary stuff for the first time this spring, but he battled for 4 1/3 innings and held the Braves to four runs (two earned) on five hits in a win at Champion Stadium.

"I thought I competed well," he said. "I was fighting my offspeed stuff all night and was really having trouble being able to throw it for strikes and get ahead in the count. But I thought I competed well, and I was happy to be out there."

Astros manager A.J. Hinch was glad to see Wojciechowski have to dig a little deeper and pitch through some innings with runners on base.

"As I told him when he left the mound, he's got a great compete button," Hinch said. "There's going to be times during the season and times during his career he's going to pitch even further than he did tonight. I love the way he goes about it and love the way he competes when he gets the ball."

Wojciechowski is still in the running for a spot in the starting rotation because the Astros are concerned about the readiness of left-hander Brett Oberholtzer, who returned to Grapefruit League action Monday after nearly three weeks away with a left lat strain. If they're not convinced Oberholtzer will be ready to make his first start of the regular season, Wojciechowski would make the rotation.

"I try not to think about it too much," he said. "Wherever I go, I'll be happy to be playing baseball and working hard and competing."

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will start Opening Day on Monday against the Indians, and right-hander Scott Feldman will follow him in the rotation. Right-handers Collin McHugh and Roberto Hernandez have also made the rotation. Oberholtzer was considered a favorite before his injury and an illness sidelined him.

In 21 innings this spring, Wojciechowski posted a 1.29 ERA, allowing 17 hits and six runs (three earned) in six games (three starts). He struck out 16 and walked five.

"I'm happy about it," he said. "I thought I came in and competed and did what I wanted to do and had a lot of fun and just really thankful for this opportunity and just glad to be here."

In addition to the final spot in the rotation, the Astros still must determine their final arm in the bullpen, a situation complicated by Josh Fields' groin injury. If Fields starts the year on the disabled list, that opens a spot for right-hander Will Harris or left-hander Kevin Chapman.

There are also two spots remaining among positions players, with outfielders Robbie Grossman, Alex Presley and L.J. Hoes, infielder/outfielder Jonathan Villar and first baseman Jon Singleton all on the bubble.

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.