03/06/10 2:30 PM ET
Maysonet's versatility opens eyes
Infielder taking outfield reps in bid to make team
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
With that in mind, Maysonet travels heavy. He makes sure to show up with a catcher's mitt, an infielder's glove, an outfield glove and even a first-baseman's mitt, just in case the Astros want him to stretch his versatility even more.
"I've got them in my bag every day," Maysonet said of the gloves. "Whatever they need, I'll be there."
That's been Maysonet's philosophy since he was drafted by the Astros out of Delta State University in 2003. A shortstop by trade, he's seen time at third base and shortstop in the Major Leagues, and this spring has spent time working in the outfield.
"He fits in because he's very versatile, and if he can't play the outfield, he's capable of playing all infield positions and he makes good, solid contact and is a good guy to have in the clubhouse," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "He fits into the picture pretty well."
Maysonet, 28, comes to camp competing for a roster spot anyway he can find it. It won't be easy, considering the Astros appear to be set on the infield with starters Lance Berkman, Kazuo Matsui, Tommy Manzella and Pedro Feliz. Geoff Blum and Jeff Keppinger will be the backups.
But Maysonet figures to be heard from at some point this year. He'll be one of the first players the Astros will turn to if there's an injury on the infield, or if Manzella and/or Matsui are ineffective. He opened some eyes last season when he hit .290 in 69 at-bats with the Astros.
"I don't know where I fit in their plans," Maysonet said. "I never played a game in the outfield in the big leagues. That goes against me. [Outfielder Cory Sullivan] has four or five years in the big leagues and has experience. If they're looking for a guy that can play outfield and infield, I can do that. But if they're looking for an outfielder, I'm going to have to get a lot of work out there so I can do my best."
2010 Spring Training - Houston Astros
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Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
So far this spring, Maysonet has worked out with the outfielders twice. He also makes it a point to shag fly balls during at least two rounds of batting practice each day to get a better idea of how balls come off the bat and to study their trajectory.
"Fly balls, especially over your head, are kind of tough, and especially with a lefty hitting," Maysonet said. "You have to play the ball differently. If there's wind, it's going to tail away some. Fly balls are tough."
The native of Puerto Rico is a career .255 hitters in the Minor Leagues with 37 homers and 235 RBIs in 661 games. Maysonet got his feet wet in the Majors in 2008 by playing in seven games. He had three stints with the big league team in '09. He started 17 games last year -- 13 at second base, three at third and one at shortstop -- and even donned catcher's gear to catch in the bullpen.
Former Astros bullpen coach Mark Bailey and bullpen catcher Strech Suba were impressed with his catching skills.
"God blessed me with a little bit of talent," Maysonet said. "They told me, 'You look good back there.'"
Defense has always come pretty easy to Maysonet, who was told by the front office when has in Class A he was a big league ready shortstop. He has always been a work in progress with the bat, though, and credits former teammate J.R. House with helping him become a more disciplined hitter in 2008.
"I went from being a free-swinger to walking a bunch of times," Maysonet said. "He told me how to work counts and see pitches, and that helped me a lot, especially coming from a player. He did a great job. I always like to say 'Thank you' to him, because he made me a hitter."
Maysonet figures to be in Major League camp until the end, doing whatever he can to make a difference. His beginning the season on the Opening Day roster for the first time remains a long shot, but he comes to work every day, ready for anything.
"Nobody is going to give you anything," he said. "You have to earn it. You do your best, and hopefully they can see you're helping them in some way, somehow. I never think they're going to give me something, because they never have. I went from being a nobody to getting called up and doing OK and getting sent back down. Whenever I get eight or 10 years [in the Majors], I know I've earned it and should be here."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.