Springer willing, ready for more games in CF

Astros have plenty of defensive options in the OF for '17

Springer willing, ready for more games in CF

HOUSTON -- Astros outfielder George Springer came through the Minor Leagues as a center fielder and moved to right field when he reached the Majors to accommodate Dexter Fowler. The addition of free-agent outfielder Josh Reddick means Springer will get more time in center in 2017, but versatility remains a key strength for manager A.J. Hinch.

Springer, who has played only 19 games in center field in three years in the big leagues (311 in right field), will see more action in center field next year than he has at any point since he joined the Astros. A finalist for an American League Gold Glove Award in right field last season, Springer has the speed and athleticism to be a stellar center fielder.

"I will do whatever A.J. asks me to do," Springer said. "I understand [Reddick's] positioning and understand where I played the last two years, but I'll do whatever it is they ask me and give the exact same effort."

Reddick won a Gold Glove in right field in 2012 with Oakland and has played primarily in right during his eight-year career, though he's seen time in left and center. With Springer moving between center and right field, Reddick will split time between left and right in 2017.

For example, on days Jake Marisnick starts in center, Springer could start in right and Reddick in left. On days Norichika Aoki is in left field, Springer could play in center and Reddick in right.

"The fact I could play these guys at any spot and feel comfortable is a great advantage," Hinch said. "There's a lot of options and a lot of combos to try to figure out the best group I can put out there."

Springer said playing center field brings a much different perspective than right field.

"It's fun for me," he said of center. "It's almost like a jail-break position. The ball gets hit and you've got to go, whereas a corner outfielder has a lot more to take into the effect -- throwing behind somebody, the wall, the track, the spin on the balls. You don't have to play as fast on the corner-outfield positions. I'll play the same way if I'm right or center or whether he wants to stick me in left. I'll do what he asks me to do."

Much like Springer, Reddick has been known to run into a few walls to make the difficult catches. Springer appreciates that style of play, a style he saw firsthand when Reddick was with the AL West-rival A's during Springer's first 2 1/2 years in the big leagues.

"When you're hitting, you know he's out there and you expect him to catch it," Springer said. "I think he's going to fit in great on our team. He plays like us. He has that off-the-wall, through-the-wall mentality. He's gotten us a lot and I'm glad he's on our team now."

Early in the 2013 season, Reddick injured his wrist when he tried to make a diving catching in foul territory at Minute Maid Park and crashed into the wall. The effort wasn't lost on Springer.

"He's played a very, very hard style of baseball and that's obviously wanted," he said. "He me reminds of almost like a dog. He goes after until he gets to it. Plus, he can throw."

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.