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Gonzalez has good chance to be Astros' utility man

Gonzalez has good chance to be Astros' utility man

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Considering his versatility and good showing with the bat during the first two weeks of Grapefruit League action, switch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez has put himself in good position to break camp on the 25-man roster as an extra infielder/outfielder.

Gonzalez, who hit .221 in 72 games with the Astros last year, entered Saturday leading the Astros with 12 hits this spring, and was tied with Marc Krauss for the lead with 17 total bases in 26 at-bats. He was hitting .462 with a .444 on-base percentage, while seeing action at third base, second base, shortstop and in left field.

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"Marwin has been tremendous, and that's one of the reasons we're starting to move him around the diamond more and more," manager Bo Porter said. "He will add flexibility and balance to our roster because he can play so many different positions."

Gonzalez, who isn't on the 40-man roster, spent all of the 2012 season in Houston after being acquired in the Rule 5 Draft, but last year spent 44 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He hit .297 with a .404 on-base percentage in 23 games in the Venezuelan Winter League.

"I've been working hard with what I'm doing right now, and I'm happy how I'm feeling," Gonzalez said. "I feel comfortable at the plate, and everything comes from hard work in the last few months. I [am] trying to be patient at the plate and get a good pitch to hit."

Gonzalez's versatility could be his biggest asset when it comes to making the club. He could fill the role held last year by Jake Elmore, who was primarily an infielder but made appearances at all nine defensive positions.

"Those players are very valuable to a team," general manager Jeff Luhnow said.

Gonzalez entered Saturday's 14-3 loss to Detroit as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning. He went 1-for-1 with a double to raise his spring average to .481. Krauss tripled during the game to give him a one-base edge over Gonzalez.

Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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