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Villar making strides in field with glovework

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OAKLAND -- After committing 16 errors in 58 games last year in his rookie season -- and struggling on defense this spring -- Astros shortstop Jonathan Villar has made a solid contribution with the glove during the first two weeks of the season. He and Jose Altuve are the only shortstop-second base combo in the Majors without an error entering Friday.

Villar said improving his defense has been a top concern since the start of the spring.

"When you play and you're batting, you go up and down," he said. "The defense, you have to have everything all the time. You have to make a routine play."

Astros third base coach Pat Listach, who handles infield defense, said he's proud of the defense of the entire infield, especially considering their struggles with the bats.

"I think for the most part, they haven't taken their at-bats to the field because we aren't hitting," Listach said. "If we're not hitting and not playing defense, now that's really bad. We will eventually hit, but the defense has to be there every day.

"You may hit four balls hard and not have any hits, but that's one of those things. The next day, three broken-bat hits fall. The defense has to be there every day. When the game's on the line in the ninth inning and two outs, I don't care which one of the infielders they hit it to. I'm comfortable with all of them, but there's always room for improvement."

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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