Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 4/6/12
HOUSTON At the very least Brian Bogusevic was going to offer perspective. The road of his professional career has been too winding and unorthodox for him to view this present opportunity haphazardly. If some consider Bogusevic, 28, far too old to be lumped into the group of prospects the Astros are examining during this rebuilding season, he views the window of his potential as slightly less ajar and not yet closed. Of the 10 Astros who on Friday night appeared on an opening day active roster for the first time, Bogusevic is the oldest. That doesn't translate into self-imaging as a stopgap option in right field. No matter how one opts to construe what's been presented, it remains an opportunity still. "I'm happy to have the opportunity that's here and I'm trying to take advantage of it," Bogusevic said after finishing 1-for-4 with a home run in the Astros' season-opening, 5-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Minute Maid Park. "I just look at it like everybody else does: We're all here for the time being, and the organization is in such a state of turnover that they're looking for guys who can play. This happens to be our opportunity to show that we can be a part of this team for a while." But unlike second baseman Jose Altuve, 21, shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, 23, catcher Jason Castro and left fielder J.D. Martinez, both 24, this opportunity has been a frustratingly long time coming for Bogusevic. It took more than five years for Bogusevic, the Astros' first-round draft pick in 2005 out of Tulane, to make his big-league debut. By Sept. 1, 2010 he'd long since been converted into an outfielder after failing as a left-handed pitcher. He had yet to even carve a career as a reliable bat off the bench before the Astros finally acquiesced to rebuilding and traded franchise a cornerstone, outfielder Hunter Pence, to the Phillies last summer. Somewhat fortuitously, Bogusevic was suddenly viable. With Pence jettisoned and playing time available, Bogusevic batted .317 with four home runs and 14 RBIs over his final 43 games. As a former pitcher his arm strength was unquestioned, and his athleticism was heralded throughout his trials in the minors. Even though the sample size was small, Bogusevic finally flashed some promise with his bat, putting the Astros in position to contemplate his candidacy this spring. Once in Kissimmee, Fla., Bogusevic continued to display his ability as a hitter. Over his final 10 games he batted .375 with three home runs and seven RBIs. He reached base at a .362 clip down the stretch last season and burnished that batting eye by drawing six walks in late March. The blast he smacked off Rockies right-hander Jeremy Guthrie traveled an estimated 398 feet the opposite way to left-center field, offering additional confirmation that Bogusevic could have power to all fields. "He's got ability to do a lot of things," Astros manager Brad Mills said of Bogusevic, who entered this season with just 214 career plate appearances. "We've seen his arm, the way he throws. We've seen the way he plays the outfield. You talk about his power; he displayed that last year as well. He runs extremely well. He's got a lot of tools there." But when is it too late to showcase those tools? By baseball standards Bogusevic is no longer considered a prospect, and if not for the Pence trade, he would likely be typecast as a reserve left-handed bat and defensive replacement. Bogusevic seemed defined by his limitations. If his window is barely cracked, how does he go about cashing in that sliver of hope? How can Bogusevic capitalize on his first starting job? "He's been fighting to get to this spot, to be an opening day starter and to be a starting right fielder for us," Astros utility infielder Matt Downs said. "When he finally gets the opportunity I think he'll step up big and do big things for us. "I think you play the game the same way. I think you go out there and go about your business. You prepare as a starter instead of as a bench player. You prepare to play every day. He's used to that, though. He came through the minors playing every day, so he's used to it now." Bogusevic will have to call on a variety of experiences to navigate this new terrain. He played every day in the minors, but these are the bigs. He'd carved a niche off the bench with the Astros, but now he's their starting right fielder. It took Bogusevic a long time to arrive here, longer than most players his age at this stage, yet he has his chance to thrive. Perhaps youth will protect the youngsters should they stumble, and maybe Bogusevic is getting rope only because the Astros' options behind him aren't exceptional. Yet after traveling so far to reach this point, Bogusevic isn't the least bit daunted by what's ahead. If this is what comes to those who wait, savoring the good seems wise. "Obviously I'm not 21, 22 years old; my window might be a little bit smaller," Bogusevic said. "This might be my one chance or a smaller opportunity than everybody, but it's still a chance just the same. I'm not looking to do anything different than anybody else but take advantage of opportunities. "I feel like the coaches have started to have some confidence in me and can give me a little leeway here and there. It's a good feeling to be able to go out there and play and know that there's going to be tomorrow." Follow me on Twitter at moisekapenda
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