Towles branching out from behind plate

Towles branching out from behind plate

Towles branching out from behind plate
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros catcher J.R. Towles took ground balls at first base Friday afternoon, and he will be getting some reps at third base and in the outfield this spring in an effort to increase his versatility.

"A couple of days ago he came in and we had a little talk, and he said he had played some first before," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He does a good job behind the plate, but this does nothing but increase his value to be able to do those things."

Towles, the club's former top prospect who's battling for a spot on the roster following an injury-shortened 2010, played some first base, third base and outfield in college. Cracking the Major League club at catcher any time soon will be difficult, with Jason Castro and Humberto Quintero entrenched.

"I feel I'm athletic enough to play other positions than just catch," Towles said. "They're going to work with me for a while first and show me what to do, and what not to do. I like playing other positions."

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Mills said Towles could see some time at first base in some Grapefruit League games.