Altuve, Springer eager for Beltran's arrival

Altuve, Springer eager for Beltran's arrival

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- As the Astros await the arrival of 19-year veteran Carlos Beltran, who returned to the club this offseason on a one-year, $16 million deal, the two younger star players who have their lockers on each side of him in the home clubhouse at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches reported to camp Thursday eager to work with him.

All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve and center fielder George Springer both arrived one day before position players were scheduled to report, joining about 18 others. Beltran and shortstop Carlos Correa, his fellow native of Puerto Rico, are expected at any time.

"That's pretty crazy, to be completely honest with you," Springer said of the thought of having his locker next to Beltran. "That guy's a Hall of Famer in my book. That's a pretty cool guy to be next to. I got Jake [Marisnick on the other side], so he trumps Jake for sure."

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Springer, of course, was joking about Marisnick, but the energy level in the clubhouse picked up with Springer's arrival.

"He's a positive guy, he's a guy that sort of brings his exuberant personality out every single day," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Everybody smiles when you see George."

The Astros hope all of their younger players can learn something from Beltran, especially Springer.

"He's always been very, very consistent, and he's a guy you watch, and you see him and you can tell his swing hasn't changed in 15, 20 years," Springer said. "There really isn't a thing I can say I'm not trying to learn from someone like him. He's been around forever and played in some crazy games and has a lot of experience. Hopefully I can be a sponge around him and all the other guys who are here, and learn."

Altuve, a four-time All-Star and two-time American League batting champion, ate dinner with Correa and Beltran shortly after the veteran signed in December. He's looking forward to seeing Beltran every day.

"He's a great guy to have on your team -- 18 or whatever years in the league," Altuve said. "You might be doing something good when you play that long in the league. He's a great player, not only because of his numbers, but because of his attitude. He's definitely going to bring some leadership to the team."

That being said, Altuve has become the face of the Astros at 26 years old.

"I think we have more than one leader and more than one face here," Altuve said. "We have guys like Springer, Correa, [Alex] Bregman. Now we have Carlos, [Josh] Reddick. We have a lot of good guys. We used to be relying on one guy, but this team is complete. It doesn't matter if I play or not, we're going to still be good."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.