Astros infielder Brett Wallace told nextooze.com that he aims to step up this season and bring an aggressive mindset to the field.
The 25-year-old Wallace enters Friday evening’s split-squad action hitting .279 with a homer, seven RBI, four doubles and three runs scored over 43 at-bats in 20 games for the Astros this spring.
After an up and down 2011 season that included a one-month stint at Triple-A Oklahoma City, Wallace recognizes it’s time to prove himself to the Astros and show he can stick in the major leagues.
He did everything right over the offseason and demonstrated a positive attitude when approached by general manager Jeff Luhnow regarding him competing for the job at third in Spring Training.
Wallace, who has previously played third in college and the minors, admits he loves the challenge and refuses to back down.
Also, Luhnow and Wallace respect each other.
The Astros GM was responsible for selecting Wallace as a first-round pick in 2008 during his tenure with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“He [Luhnow] talked to me about playing third base,” Wallace said. “He asked me my thoughts on that. He was in St. Louis when they picked me. Jeff had a lot to do with that. We have known each other for a while. He said what the organization saw and wanted to hear what I had to say. I really like a good challenge.”
Wallace was the Astros’ Opening Day starter at first in 2011.
Although veteran Carlos Lee is expected to fill the role for the Astros this season, Wallace welcomes the overall challenge of proving that he can help the ballclub win by playing two infield positions.
With Chris Johnson emerging this spring as the likely favorite to earn the starting job at third, Wallace will do what’s asked of him.
“I like playing both positions,” Wallace said. “I don’t prefer one over the other. My biggest goal is to be in the lineup and help the ballclub win. I have got to be a run producer. By showing I can play third and first, I’m helping my chances of doing that. I like that.
“I’m trying something new and trying to prove myself.”
Wallace hit .259 with five homers, 29 RBI, 22 doubles and 37 runs scored over 336 at-bats in 115 games for the Astros last season.
He struggled to stay ahead of advanced scouting reports, but at the same time, the young infielder gained valuable learning experience.
Wallace knows what he needs to do.
“I don’t like to put numbers on anything,” he said. “However, I learned it is really about the mindset. I plan to be aggressive out there. If I’m aggressive, I know I’m going to help the lineup produce runs.
“To me, that’s the most important thing.”
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