Altuve, Correa to debut Friday or Saturday

Middle-infield duo not on travel squad for Thursday

Altuve, Correa to debut Friday or Saturday

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch has yet to reveal his batting order for the first spring game of the season Thursday against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., but second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa aren't on the travel roster.

Correa and Altuve, arguably the best middle infield in baseball, will make their Grapefruit League debuts either Friday against the Cardinals or Saturday against the Mets at Osceola County Stadium, Hinch said. Some other starters, including catcher Jason Castro, outfielders Carlos Gomez and Colby Rasmus and third baseman Luis Valbuena, also won't make the trip.

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Among those to see playing time and likely start are outfielders George Springer, Jake Marisnick and Preston Tucker, catcher Max Stassi and infielder Tyler White.

The Astros are set at every starting position on the field with the exception of first base, so that will be an ongoing battle during games. Hinch said games are also critical for timing and conditioning for everyone.

"There's a component individually out of all of them that we're looking for, some on a bigger scale than others," Hinch said. "Good, clean baseball is good to have. I know there's going to be errors, long innings and there's going to be bad bounces here and there, but good, clean baseball is something I'd like to pay attention to."

Hinch said finding enough at-bats for all of the first-base candidates -- White, Jon Singleton, Matt Duffy and A.J. Reed -- will be a challenge, but he can use some of them at designated hitter to get at-bats. Castro will DH for his first couple of games before getting behind the plate next week.

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Hinch said he wants all of his position players to play three days in a row at some point and have the regulars play at least one full game, as well as back-to-back games. Relief pitchers will pitching multiple innings and appear in consecutive games later in the spring.

"The first week, I want to get everybody in camp and get them a few at-bats and get to the feeling of being comfortable to play again," Hinch said.

The Astros have two split-squad games Sunday in which all position players will get a chance to play.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for 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.