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Altuve seeing benefits of offseason work

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SEATTLE -- Jose Altuve couldn't make himself bigger, so made sure this winter to do whatever he could to make himself faster and stronger.

Altuve didn't play winter ball in Venezuela and instead focused on his conditioning. He showed up at spring camp 10 pounds lighter, but with some added muscle. It was all done to put himself in position to play 162 games.

"I didn't chill out at home," he said. "I worked hard this year. I did everything to be ready for the season."

Altuve entered Saturday leading the Major Leagues with 66 hits, and with 10 multiple-hit games in his previous 13. His 20 multihit games for the season were tied for first in the Majors with Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler.

"I know last year I hit a couple of ground balls that I should have been safe and I was out," he said. "I was in good shape last year, but I said to myself, 'OK, if you get in better shape, it's going to be even better and you're going to play more and feel better and you can do a better job.' That's what I did."

Altuve has also increased his plate discipline, entering Saturday with 14 walks and 18 strikeouts. He ranked fourth in the Major Leagues with one strikeout every 12.39 plate appearances.

"It's two-part," manager Bo Porter said. "It's the ability to recognize spin, understand pitch counts, but I think the mental aspect of it is even that much greater. I think that he's improved leaps and bounds in his mental strike zone, which has actually helped his development of taking a lot of those close pitches and understanding when they really want him and when they don't. And he's OK with talking a walk."

Brian McTaggart is a 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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