Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Astros Luke Scott Plays to Pick Up All the Marbles

Minor leaguer Luke Scott was supposed to be a mere stopgap when the Astros called him up for what was planned as limited action last July, but he immediately hit for the cycle with five RBI on the way to a .406 average in his first 11 games, forcing manager Phil Garner to keep him in the lineup.

Though Scott, 28, finished the year with a .336 average, hitting a homer every 20 at-bats, he apparently failed to make a believer of Garner, who now plans to limit him to platooning in right field with Jason Lane, 30.

As a lefthanded hitter, Scott stands to gain 65-70 percent of the playing time under Garner's plan. But if Scott continues to build on his impressive stats last year, look for him to take over full-time once Lane falls into another of his extended swoons. Lane, who hit only .201 with 15 homers in limited action last year, has been among the worst hot-and-cold hitters in the majors, with slumps lasting for six weeks or more throughout his major and minor league career.

Playing so infrequently, even a constant diet of lefthanded pitching likely won't help the righthanded Lane develop into anything remotely like a regular, let alone to transform into the star he had formerly been projected to become.