Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 3/19/12
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After an offseason of personal issues, the Astros' Jordan Schafer says he's a different person. Schafer, 25, was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in in his home state of Florida in October. In November Schafer opted for a pretrial intervention program in which the charge would be expunged if he completes the program successfully. "I'm a lot different," Schafer said. "All the things you go through in life change you. It wasn't necessarily what happened this offseason. Obviously that was something that was a big part of it but the older you get... I mean now I'm here and for the first time I'm comfortable in my own shoes here. I can be myself. I don't have to look over my shoulder. It's just a comfortable feeling to come to the field every day and all I worry about is becoming a better player. It's a nice feeling to have." The change in Schafer is apparently not just talk. He took his offseason conditioning program so seriously that he gained approximately 20 pounds of muscle. He appears bigger, stronger and most importantly, more focused on the game and the opportunity to become the Astros' regular center fielder. "I think I've matured and grown up," said Schafer. "I think you learn from things in life regardless of whether you get in trouble or not. I've learned from my mistakes. But not just that... other things people don't know about or things that go on in your regular routine of life." The Astros are hoping Schafer becomes the team's lead-off hitter and centerfielder for the at least the near term. George Springer, the 2011 first round pick, is also considered to have high upside. Schafer's next challenge may be learning how to brave Tal's Hill at Minute Maid Park. "I don't necessarily think that hill is the safest of things out there," said Schafer. "I think it's more of a danger than anything else. I think it's only a matter of time before someone goes out there and gets seriously hurt. But it's a part of our field. It's something I have to get comfortable with and learn and make adjustments to." Offensively, Schafer gets his primary responsibility and the area which he must improve: "(Getting) on base. When I'm on base I cause havoc and we score runs. Whether I was in Atlanta or in Houston last year, when I got on base a lot of good things happened." Schafer has a career .311 on-base percentage in 533 plate appearances, a number which must improve dramatically if he is to remain at the top of the batting order. Given his new outlook and improved physique, Schafer seems more equipped now to handle the work of an everyday Major Leaguer. "There's always going to be some kind of pressure on you to perform," he said. "But if you just take care of your business and try to improve everyday it all takes care of itself."
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