Wallace to Triple-A, Gonzalez makes club
Brett Wallace, who began last season as the Astros’ Opening Day first baseman and was competing for a backup infield spot this spring, was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in a series of roster moves announced by the club
Wallace was hitting .271 with one homer and seven RBIs in 48 spring at-bats entering Sunday’s Grapefruit League finale against the Tigers. He played both first and third base this spring in an effort to increase his versatility, but will start the year in the Minor Leagues.
The Astros also announced shortstop Marwin Gonzalez had made the Opening Day roster, along with outfielders J.D. Martinez and Brian Bogusevic, second baseman Jose Altuve and catcher Jason Castro. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the five players — all of whom are on an Opening Day roster for the first time — were notified prior to Sunday’s game by manager Brad Mills.
The only surprise in the group is Gonzalez, a Rule 5 pick who hasn’t had a good spring at the plate but has played terrific defense, including a pair of nice plays Sunday.
The moves leave the Astros with 31 players in camp ahead of Wednesday’s deadline to set the 25-man roster. Considering left-hander Sergio Escalona is still on the roster and is facing Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, the Astros have five remaining cuts to make.
As a Rule 5 pick, the Astros must keep Gonzalez on the 25-man roster all season or risk losing him.
Wallace, acquired by the Astros at the Trade Deadline in 2010, got off to a terrific start at the plate last April, but slowly watched his average decline. He was sent to the Minor Leagues at the end of July and return to the big league club when rosters expanded in September, but Carlos Lee was entrenched as the starter at first and rookie Jimmy Paredes had taken over at third.
Wallace will remain with the team through this week’s exhibition games and play third base in Oklahoma City.