Hinch not worried about Carter's early struggles

Hinch not worried about Carter's early struggles

SEATTLE -- One of the big reasons the Astros rank last in the Major Leagues in runs scored 12 games into the season is because of the early struggles of first baseman Chris Carter, who finished second in the league in homers in 2014.

Carter, who was given the day off on Monday, is hitting .075 (three singles in 40 at-bats) with no home runs and 17 strikeouts. Last season he hit .227 with 37 homers and 88 RBIs but had several stretches in which he was lost at the plate.

"He's frustrated to the extent no one likes to get outs, but we're still at the very early stages, and he's done this before and come out of it," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We believe he's going to be fine."

Hinch likes the fact that Carter has remained extremely even-keeled this season, which is in keeping with his demeanor. He was the same guy during his two-month tear in July and August of last season as he was in September, when he scuffled again.

"The swing and miss is part of the process, I guess," Hinch said. "He comes with some homers, too. In bad stretches there are swings and misses, and in good stretches there are swings and misses. It's something that goes in waves where the pitch recognition, early recognition out of the hand, swinging at good strikes [isn't there]. You break down his season, and some of it's been his own doing, some of it's been pitchers who have made good pitches on him.

"You combine both of those when you're struggling [and] it leads to a few at-bats in a row when you're not producing."

Carter has swung the bat well in his career at Safeco Field, including .320 with two homers last season, so the time could be right for him to come around. Still, Hinch sat him for the series opener, more so because he wanted to get Marwin Gonzalez some time at first base.

"I wouldn't look deep into it," he said.

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.