Gattis loses weight, gains versatility

Slugger works with personal trainer in effort to shed DH-only label

Gattis loses weight, gains versatility

HOUSTON -- Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis worked with a personal trainer this offseason in an effort to lose weight while keeping his strength, and he subsequently dropped 18 pounds. It had nothing to do with him wanting to hit more triples, either.

Gattis, who had 11 triples last year, was urged by the club to become more versatile, and he took it upon himself to hire a personal trainer for the first time to get in better shape. The goal for Gattis is to be able to play the field more and shed the label as a player who can only swing the bat.

"I don't want to be some guy allergic to leather, you know?" he said.

Gattis hit .246 last year and led the team in homers (27), RBIs (88) and, yes, triples (11). He made 136 starts at designated hitter in 2015 and began 11 games in left field, but he never saw action at catcher, the position he spent two years playing with the Braves prior to being traded to Houston.

"Last year, I stuck to strength workouts, and I really kind of took it easy last offseason and didn't do as much," Gattis said. "I got with a personal trainer this year and lost a little weight and maintained strength. That's always been kind of the goal. Every year is a little different."

Gattis played in Venezuela following the 2012 season to get ready for his first taste of the big leagues and admits he was worn out coming into the year.

"I knew it was going to be a long season catching in the big leagues for the first time, and after that, I got lax on some stuff and needed to get back into it," he said. "This has been my first year to get with a personal trainer."

The Astros would like Gattis to be a viable option behind the plate, which meant losing weight to take some of the strain off his knees. Having Gattis be able to play some left field and get in the mix at first base could keep his bat in the lineup more. Astros manager A.J. Hinch opted to hold Gattis out of the starting lineup in the crucial final three games of last season in Arizona because there was no DH.

"I was able to meet with Evan a couple of weeks ago, and he looks great," Hinch said. "I know he wants to be a factor potentially playing in the field somewhere. He always wants to build on the season he had last season. I love when I see players take ownership of their situation, and Evan seems to be taking it very seriously."

Don't be surprised to see Gattis catching some during the spring and taking ground balls at first. The Astros will have Gattis in the lineup somewhere but just want to have more options.

"I don't know what the team wants to do with me 100 percent or what's going to happen," Gattis said. "You never know. Catching's an option, playing a little left is an option, maybe taking ground balls is an option. I'm not really sure yet. I think being mobile, lighter and maintaining strength and kind of working on some unbalances will help me be a little more versatile."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.