OAKLAND — Objects in your rearview mirror are closer than they appear, a concept to which for Astros outfielder Chas McCormick can relate, with fellow outfielder Jake Meyers playing games at extended Spring Training in West Palm Beach, Fla., nearing the end of his rehab.
Meyers, who injured his shoulder crashing into the wall in last year’s American League Division Series and had surgery to repair a torn labrum, could return to the Astros by the end of June. That would seemingly cut into the playing time of McCormick and Jose Siri in center field, so putting up numbers in the next few weeks is paramount.
McCormick has admittedly struggled this year, but broke an 0-for-8 slump in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the A’s at the Coliseum by going 3-for-4 with two RBIs, including an eighth-inning homer off Oakland starter Frankie Montas that broke a 1-1 tie and effectively sealed the victory.
“You never really know,” McCormick said. “[Trade] Deadline is coming up and Meyers is coming up pretty soon. You can’t think about that. You’ve got to control what you can control. This is a very competitive team, we’re all about winning here. I try not to think about it … and every time you get in the lineup, just play as hard as possible.”
Both McCormick (right field) and Siri (center field) were in Tuesday’s lineup. McCormick has started 21 games in center this year, while Siri has made 25 starts in center. McCormick’s ability to play all three outfield spots has value, but ultimately putting up numbers on offense will dictate how much playing time he gets.
“I hope I’m in the lineup tomorrow, which I believe I [will be],” he said. “I can build off [Tuesday’s game]. I haven’t been playing that well lately, so today was big for me. Players can have a good game every once in a while, but I’m trying to have good games every single day. I know that’s impossible, but just being consistent up there [is my goal].”
McCormick says he’s felt slow at the plate and in the outfield the last couple of weeks.
“I need to get going, and today is a good start for me,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve been winning, and that’s the most important thing. I’ve just got to be more consistent and focused and prepared. I’ve got to work harder so I can be out there.”
Montas had retired the first seven Astros hitters he faced before McCormick singled to right field with one out in the third. He hit an RBI single to left field in the fifth to score Yordan Alvarez and tie the game before sending a Montas fastball 422 feet over the center-field wall in the eighth for a 2-1 lead.
“I just felt pretty comfortable today and worked on kind of being inside the baseball with Montas’ 97 mph sinker,” McCormick said. “I was kind of looking inner-half most of the time. Luckily I put a good swing on the fastball my first at-bat, I hit a splitter my second at-bat and then third at-bat I finally got another fastball and I geared up. I had just missed a couple of pitches before and I made an adjustment and wanted to be a little shorter to the ball. He threw me a fastball, and I put a good swing on it.”
For an Astros team that has struggled to score runs, McCormick was a key contributor, providing two of the three RBIs on the night. The Astros’ third run came when Zach Jackson relieved Montas and proceeded to walk four consecutive batters.
McCormick entered the game 3-for-6 in his career against Montas, and quickly added to that short-sample success against the hard-throwing right-hander.
“Sometimes you see the ball off of a guy, and he’s hit him pretty good in the past, which is one reason why he was in there,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He was trying to get some hits, not necessarily hit the ball out of the ballpark, and then you end up hitting a ball out of the ballpark anyway. Chas had an outstanding night.”
McCormick made his Major League debut in Oakland on April 1, 2021, and hit his first homer there three days later. He’s a career .318 hitter (7-for-22) at the Coliseum, and hopes to add to that tally in Wednesday’s series finale.
“I like hitting here,” he said. “I think you can see the ball pretty well. It kind of flies out in the outfield.”