Defense an early strength

Defense an early strength

PHILADELPHIA -- Even with some early-season injuries, lineup changes and inconsistent hitting, the Astros' defense has never wavered. In fact, their play in the field has been outstanding.

Though the first 15 games, the Astros have committed only three errors, the fewest in the National League and tied for the lowest total in the Major Leagues with the Royals. Houston also leads all NL teams with a .994 fielding percentage, trailing only Kansas City (.995) for the MLB lead.

"I think they've made all the plays they've had to make," manager Cecil Cooper said. "I think a lot of this goes back to Spring Training. Those are some of the first things we talked about -- making sure the plays that we have to make, that we make them."

The Astros made those plays in Spring Training, and the countless hours of practice they put in have carried over to the regular season.

"Just make the simple play. And I think there's a lot of work put in," Cooper said. "I have to give some kudos to [third-base coach Ed] Romero and kudos to [first-base coach Jose] Cruz, for keeping the outfield aligned in the right defensive alignment. Same goes to Ed for the infield. They've put a lot of work in on that in the spring. That was an emphasis."

Andy Jasner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.