Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 2/8/12
Having determined that they prefer for Carlos Lee to remain at first base, the Astros decided to instead move first base prospect Brett Wallace across the diamond to third. Manager Brad Mills said Wednesday that Wallace will get a serious look at third base this Spring in an effort to give him an opportunity to be in the lineup. "I think it's something that we at least need to venture into," said Mills. "Here's a guy that's hit at every level. I know he's had some issues (in the Major Leagues) but at the same time if we can get another left handed bat in the lineup and get a run producer in the lineup..." Wallace was actually drafted as a third baseman by Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow when Luhnow was with the Cardinals. Wallace has played more games at third than at first as a minor leaguer. But Wallace's defensive position is secondary to what the Astros really want to see from the player who was the centerpiece of the Roy Oswalt trade in 2010. "Right now, the most important thing is for Wallace to get back to the swing and the offensive production that we know he's capable of," Luhnow said. "Whether it ends up being as a third baseman or first baseman, really, the offensive production is what we need to see." Wallace opened the 2011 season as the Astros' starting first baseman but was demoted to the minor leagues, along with third baseman Chris Johnson, by the end of July. Wallace batted .388 in April but his production declined dramatically as the season progressed and was hitting just .182 in the month of July when the Astros sent him to Oklahoma City. In 537 plate appearances with the Astros, Wallace is a .248 hitter with seven home runs and 28 doubles. As a minor leaguer, Wallace has batted .308 with a .381 OBP. He has also displayed more power in the minor leagues, as suggested by his .868 OPS (On-Base plus Slugging). Wallace is excited about his move back to third since it allows him another opportunity to stay in the big leagues. "By playing multiple positions I give myself a chance to impact the team at different spots and hopefully be in the lineup," said Wallace. "I love challenges and the fact that they think I can do it so I'm going to run with it full speed." Wallace will be moving back to the position he manned at Arizona St. as well as the first portion of his professional career. In recent days he has been fielding ground balls at third at Minute Maid as he prepares for the position change. "I'm still playing the infield," Wallace said. "I'm in a rhythm as far as taking ground balls and then we just adjust little things. It definitely feels good and I feel that it's comeback pretty quickly and we'll continue to work really hard and see where we're at."
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