CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Astros outfielder Jordan Schafer told nextooze.com on Monday evening that he’s healing well and expects to be in the lineup for Opening Day against the Rockies.
Schafer continues to be day-to-day after suffering a strained left hand while making a diving catch on March 18 versus the Mets.
The 25-year-old outfielder faced live pitching on Monday and later took batting practice prior to the club’s exhibition game against the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks at Whataburger Field.
“I should be good to go for Opening Day on Friday,” Schafer said. “That has been my goal for the last few weeks. It was a huge help to see that many pitches in the cage today. I was able to really test my hand, and it felt good. I got a chance to see some pitches and work on getting my timing down. It was encouraging.”
Schafer stepped up this spring in Grapefruit League action by hitting .391 (9-for-23) with an RBI, three doubles and 10 runs scored while posting a stellar .481 on-base percentage over nine games.
He did enough to distinguish himself as a starter in center.
Overall, Schafer is proud of the foundation he set for himself this spring, despite being out of game action over the last few weeks.
The young outfielder wants to prove to the organization that he’s a long-term answer at the top of the lineup and in center field.
“I worked really hard throughout the offseason to be ready for this year,” Schafer said. “It carried over into the spring. Now, I have to produce in the regular season. I want to become the best leadoff hitter I can. I don’t go up to the plate looking for a walk, but if they don’t give me a good pitch to hit, I’ll take it. I’ll try to steal a couple of bases and score a run. I made several adjustments in my game, especially with my swing. I need to be consistent and put the ball in play. I think I’m more patient and showing better plate discipline. This club believes in me and what I can offer. I want to be a long-term solution for the team.”
The Astros are expecting a great deal out of Schafer in 2012, since they acquired him via trade last season as part of the package that sent center fielder Michael Bourn to the Atlanta Braves.
“As long as I’m doing my job and helping the team win, that’s good enough for me,” Schafer said. “If I can get on base and score runs, I’m executing and doing what I’m supposed to do. The defensive aspect is also really important to me. It’s time to get it going, do well and produce for the team. It’s my time to step up.”
Schafer, a former top prospect in Atlanta’s system, welcomes the challenge of trying to reach his potential as a member of the Astros.
He respects the Astros for having faith in him.
“It’s really nice to have this organization back me the way they have,” Schafer said. “I’m excited for the challenge. I’m grateful to the Astros and the belief they have in me. Now, I have to do my part on the field. I can’t wait for the season to start. I really look forward to getting out there and trying to help the Astros win games.”
Schafer hit a combined .242 with two homers, 13 RBI and 46 runs scored over 82 games for the Braves and Astros during 2011.
He also stole 22 bases.
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