Altuve surprised by his home run surge

'I'm not even trying to hit them,' says Astros star second baseman

Altuve surprised by his home run surge

ARLINGTON -- Everybody knows Astros second baseman Jose Altuve can put the bat on the ball as well as anybody in the game. Everyone also knows what kind of an impact he can make with his speed. And he's even developed into a Gold Glove defender.

But a power hitter? Altuve's early-season power surge has caught even him by surprise, but he hopes it's a part of his game that's here to stay. Altuve began play Thursday with five home runs, which was second-most in the American League behind Josh Donaldson's six. He didn't hit his fifth homer last year until May 15 en route to a career-high 15.

"I think the only reason I have right now [for the power surge] is I'm getting older and I'm developing my strength because I'm not even trying to hit homers," Altuve said. "I feel I'm getting good pitches to hit and I'm putting a good swing, obviously, on the ball to hit a homer. I'm kind of surprised. I know a lot of people are surprised I have five homers, but I'm surprised, too. I didn't think that is part of my game, hitting homers. I'm not even trying to hit them."

Indeed, when Altuve keeps his swing in alignment, he can hit the ball to all fields with power. Last week, he hit his first career homer to straightway right field. When he tries to generate power, that's when he gets in trouble. His fifth homer this year came in his 14th game, which is well ahead of pace of the previous few years: 36th game in 2015, 115th in 2014 and 137th in 2013.

That being said, Altuve knows it's unlikely he'll be among the league's home run leaders at the end of the season.

"It's going to be really hard, but not impossible, to keep hitting those homers," he said. "Like I said, I'm not going to go out here and try to hit homers because I feel I'm going to stop hitting them, so if I do that it isn't going to be good. I'm going to try to get on base and play my game."

It's early, but seeing Altuve with more homers than Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera and David Ortiz is an eye opener.

"I'm trying to bring a little bit of everything to my game so I can help my team," he said. "Obviously, I can run. That's the best thing I do in baseball is run. I think my defense through the years is getting a little better. I'm working a lot of my patience at the plate. I just want to become a better player."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.