"Like anything, it's all built on trust," Hinch said. "You want your players to play with freedom, and if they feel like they need to take an extra base they can take an extra base. They have the freedom to play. By no means do I want to put a ton of restrictions on them, but you want to make sure they know the situation."
Baserunning instructor Gary Pettis, who stole 354 bases in his career, is working to help Altuve make smart decisions on the base paths.
"You don't want to run just to steal bases," he said. "A stolen base gets you in scoring position. Now if you rack up numbers doing that, great. You're helping the team and you help yourself also because of the numbers, but you're stealing to get into scoring position. That's what we're doing."
"I like that combo," Hinch said, per MLB.com. "Hitting after Altuve, a lot of times it's an RBI situation, even with him on first base or if he steals second or steals third. We need all of our spots to be very, very productive. The batting order, as fascinated as everybody is about it, it's one time through the order and then it's a little more random than people give credit.
"I think for [Springer] to hit in the first inning right behind Altuve, who does a pretty good job of getting on base, he's a real threat behind him to be put in a really good position. When the lineup rolls around with runners on base and the lineup flipping over, I'll take Altuve and Springer with RBI opportunities."
Altuve hit an astounding .341, winning a batting title last year. Despite that, Hinch stressed that every year is different, and Altuve will be fine as long as he plays. "I don't think there's any pressure on him as much as it's the pressure he puts on himself to be an elite player at the highest level," Hinch said. "And he just needs to play."
Hinch also pointed out that teams have had multiple seasons to adjust to Altuve at this point, and haven't been able to do so. "People have been trying to figure him out, and he's a tough out," he said. "He knows his strengths, he uses his strengths. He doesn't carry a lot of baggage with him, positive or negative, at least [that's] the early impression."
Just like last season, Altuve is expected to hit first or second in the team's batting order. The 24-year-old hit .341/.377/.453 over 660 at-bats last year.
Astros second baseman
“I think the front office, they know what they’re doing,” Altuve said. “I always expect a winning season. No matter what team we have, I always want to win.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of movement lately on the team. It seems like the thing is we’re ready to go to the playoffs, so we’re going to work hard for that.”
The Astros finished fourth in the AL West in 2014 (70-92). Altuve made his second All-Star team in 2014, while leading the majors in hits (225) and batting average (.341).
Altuve has a .340 batting average that is three points ahead of Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez's .337 mark, and the team initially left Altuve out of the lineup to presumably protect his lead, though a big day by Martinez could have pushed his mark ahead of that of Altuve. However, the second baseman was passionate about playing in the season finale, and the team ultimately decided to acquiese to his wishes.
|CBSSports.com Player Ranking|
|9/28/2014 vs N.Y. Mets|
|vs N.Y. Mets||8||1||0||.125||.125||.125|
|vs Colon (Career)||14||5||0||.429||.357||.357|
|Last 7 Games|
|Complete Game Log|
| 5 || 6 |
| 7 || 8 |
| 9 |
| 10 |
| 12 |
| 13 |
| 14 |
| 15 |
| 16 || 17 |
|More Batting Stats|
|Minor League Batting Stats|
|2011||AA-Corpus Christi Hooks||35||144||21||52||9||3||5||25||7||14||5||5||.388||.569||.361|
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