Astros not concerned with Gattis' slow start

Astros not concerned with Gattis' slow start

ARLINGTON -- The early-season struggles of Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis aren't a concern for manager A.J. Hinch. Gattis was 0-for-15 with nine strikeouts entering Saturday, including back-to-back four-strikeout games Wednesday and Thursday.

Gattis wasn't in the lineup Saturday against the Rangers, but Hinch said that was because he wanted to give Marwin Gonzalez a starter, which meant keeping the left-handed bat of Jed Lowrie in the lineup at designated hitter.

"It's early," Hinch said. "It's not a ton of at-bats. No one is more frustrated than him. He's not used to having stretches like that, but he's a pro. He's a good player, and he's going to make adjustments. I have very little concern about Evan and how productive he's going to be."

The Astros entered Saturday first in the American League with 43 strikeouts through four games. They were expected to strike out a lot in a lineup that included Chris Carter, Colby Rasmus, George Springer and Jason Castro, and those four have accounted for 20 strikeouts through four games.

Gattis is a career .253 hitter with 43 homers and 117 RBIs in 213 career games with the Braves over the past two years. Entering this year, he had struck out 178 times in 723 at-bats, so the stats suggest he's not as much of a free-swinger as the Astros have seen so far.

The Astros struck out 1,442 times last year, which was the fourth-most in history. But it was an improvement over 2013, when they set a Major League record by striking out 1,535 times.

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.