Astros' Jose Altuve makes mental, physical adjustments after disappointing season


(SportsRadio 610) -- There is no way around the fact Jose Altuve had a disappointing 2020 season with the Houston Astros.

That's by any standard.

Altuve, only three years removed from his American League MVP season, batted just .219 with five home runs and struck out often last season.

His Astros teammates expect that to change in 2021.

Earlier this week, shortstop Carlos Correa said and Altuve talked about this being the best they've ever looked to start spring training.

"He also put in the work, I saw him put in the work," Correa said. "Taking groundballs, hitting (batting practice) almost every day. I was doing the same. So when we showed up, we showed up in great shape."

Michael Brantley, whose locker is next to Altuve's at spring training, spoke Wednesday about him being in a great physical and mental state.

"We had a long conversation on Day 1," Brantley said. "I look forward to having Jose on my team like I do every year. He's one of the main reasons the Houston Astros are who we are. I expect big things out of him and I know he expects a lot of things out of himself.

"He looks great. He's running around with a big smile on his face and it's exciting."

Not only did Altuve struggle at the plate, but one of the lasting images of him defensively last year is the string of errors he committed in the infield during the American League Championship Series.

So Altuve said Wednesday he did make some defensive adjustments, though he was reluctant to go into detail.

Bottom line, he wants to be in the best physical shape and mental condition to help the team, which is expected to once again compete for the American League West division title.

"I feel really good," Altuve said Wednesday. "I put a lot of work together in the offseason and I really think I'm going to do a lot of positive things to help my team win this year."

One of those positive things could be stepping in the leadoff role for George Springer, who left the Astros for the Toronto Blue Jays in free agency.

Altuve has been successful as the leadoff hitter before, and said he'd be willing to do anything manager Dusty Baker asks of him.

Whoever fills that role, whether it be third baseman Alex Bregman or outfielder Myles Straw, it has to be someone Baker can rely on reaching base.

Altuve had a career-low on-base percentage (.286) last season.

"I think just having a better approach, a better game plan," Altuve said. "When you go out there trying to do something instead of just reacting, you're going to be better. I feel like this year, I have a game plan. I know what I want to do and I think that's going to help me a lot."