HOUSTON -- It's been well-documented this season the lengths the Astros have taken to try to get Jose Altuve to be more patient at the plate, and it's paid off. Altuve's five walks in 58 plate appearances entering Sunday matched his walk total in 234 plate appearances last year.
The Astros also stressed patience this spring to center fielder Jordan Schafer, who began play Sunday ranked fifth in the National League with 10 walks and had reached base safely in the team's first 15 games this season. Schafer was also third in the league with 19 strikeouts.
"I've been walking and striking out a lot more, but that's just a product of me taking more pitches," Schafer said. "I've been behind in the counts and just taking more pitches. It's nothing I'm trying to do on purpose. Maybe if I'm more aggressive, I wouldn't walk as much."
Schafer, a leadoff hitter, said seeing more pitches benefits him when he's facing pitchers he hasn't seen before and when the pitcher hitting in front of him has made an out, giving the pitcher more time to catch his breath in the dugout.
"Strikeouts are something I don't even worry about," Schafer said. "To me, a strikeout is just another way of making an out. Obviously, you don't want to strike out and you want to put the ball in play. Through the year, I'm sure I'm not going to strike out as much as I am now, because we've faced some tough guys lately and they've made pretty good pitches."