Giles surprised, but accepting of 'pen role

Hinch opts to keep Gregerson as Astros' closer, with newcomer working in pressure situations

Giles surprised, but accepting of 'pen role

NEW YORK -- Astros reliever Ken Giles admitted he was a little surprised by manager A.J. Hinch's decision to keep Luke Gregerson in the closer role. Hinch said Monday that Gregerson would remain his closer after saving 31 of 36 games a year ago.

The Astros acquired the hard-throwing Giles in December as part of a seven-player deal with the Phillies expecting that he might take over as the closer, but Hinch said Gregerson would be his "primary closer." Giles will play a key role at the back of the bullpen, though.

Hinch: Gregerson to remain Astros' closer

"Whatever A.J. wants, that's what I'm going to do," Giles said Tuesday prior to the season-opening game against the Yankees. "It is what it is. I have no word in any of the decisions, so I'm going to go out there, and whatever he needs me to do, I'm going to do it for the team and do what I do best."

Giles' first K with Astros

Both Giles and Gregerson factored into the Astros' 5-3 Opening Day win over the Yankees on Tuesday. Giles relieved Dallas Keuchel in the eighth, allowing one run on one hit while striking out two. Gregerson tossed a perfect ninth for his first save of the season.

Gregerson notches save

A seven-year veteran, Gregerson will continue in the role he held last year when he went 7-3 with a 3.10 ERA. He stuck out 59 batters in 61 innings and walked only 10. Houston won the first 21 games in which Gregerson appeared last year.

Gregerson got the save for the Astros in their American League Wild Card Game win over the Yankees last October.

Astros advance to ALDS

"I'm just happy to be able to play a part and help this team win," he said. "If that's in the closer's role, I'm ready for it. I feel like I've shown [Hinch] and other people that I have a lot of confidence in myself and a lot of patience and calmness on the mound, and I can take that and do well with that."

Hinch stressed he didn't feel the need to have to make an official announcement because he plans on using Gregerson and Giles in high-leverage situations, but he said it was important the players know where they stand to begin the season.

Zinkie on Gregerson as closer

Giles, 25, converted 15 saves and posted a 1.80 ERA in 69 games for Philadelphia last season, but he had a 6.75 ERA in the spring. He said beginning the season in a role other than closer means he'll have to be on his toes throughout the game.

"I need to adjust to that, and hopefully I'll figure out something quick," he said.

Hinch names Gregerson his closer

Gregerson said he was ready to go despite not appearing in a Grapefruit League game until March 27 because of a mild oblique strain suffered early in camp. He struck out six batters in 2 1/3 innings this spring, as well as appearing in a couple of Minor League games.

"Physically, I feel great," he said. "I know I didn't get as much work in as I normally would, but I don't think that's going to be as big of an issue for a reliever coming out of the 'pen, so I should be fine. I physically feel good."

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.