John McClain: Altuve wants to win another World Series, finish career in Houston

Nov 5, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (27) looks on during the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in game six of the 2022 World Series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

John McClain: Altuve wants to win another World Series, finish career in Houston

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – After a Sunday workout at spring training, Jose Altuve met with the media for the first time. Not surprisingly, the first question asked was about new general manager Dana Brown’s attempt to sign Altuve to a contract extension that’ll guarantee the second baseman finishes his career in Houston.

Altuve, who’s 32 and starting his 13th season, sounded excited about the possibility of following in the footsteps of Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, who spent their entire Major League careers with the Astros before being enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

“I like it when he says that, obviously, because I hope to retire (in Houston),” Altuve said about Brown. “It’s very special. The most important thing is we are on the same page. I’m happy to play with my teammates and for the fans in Houston, as I always say. I want to stay, so it’s really good to hear that. They want to keep me here, and I want to stay here, so I think that’s great for both sides.”

Counting 2023, Altuve has two years remaining on the seven-year, $163.5 million contract he signed in 2018 that includes a $26 million base salary this season. As a former MVP who’s won three batting titles, been voted to eight All-Star teams, and received first-team All-MLB recognition last season, Altuve’s most important achievement has been earning two World Series rings.

Altuve’s not quite ready to close the book on winning last season’s World Series in six games over the Phillies, but as the start of the season gets closer, he knows manager Dusty Baker, his coaches, and teammates have to focus on 2023.

“There’s still a little conversation about what we did last year,” he said, looking around the clubhouse. “I think in two more weeks we’ll be 100% on this year. What we did last year was amazing because everybody wants to win a World Series. It’s not like we’re going to forget about it, but we’re going to put it aside and prepare the way we should and try to make it happen again this year. Nothing is easy. I think we have to go one game at a time, not thinking about the playoffs because our division is very good.”

The Mariners, Angels, and Rangers made moves to try to catch the Astros, who have dominated the AL West, including sweeping Seattle in last year’s American League Division Series. Altuve is determined to do everything within his power to help the Astros win another division title and repeat as champions.

“I had a great offseason,” he said. “I’m happy to be here and get ready for the season. It’s been an amazing journey for the whole team. Everybody that comes here cares about winning. We’re all pulling in the same direction.”

Asked about what he worked on since winning the World Series, Altuve said, “A lot of things — hitting, becoming a better defensive player. The most important thing is to stay healthy and help the guys win more games.”

Speaking of winning, Altuve is one of 14 Astros, including 11 who helped them win the World Series, who’ll participate in the World Baseball Classic that begins March 8 and closes March 21 with the world championships in Miami.

Altuve is playing for Venezuela and hopes to help his native country win the championship. The United States is the defending champion from 2017, the last time the WBC was played, and the same year the Astros won their first World Series. The U.S. and the Dominican Republic have rosters stacked with major leaguers.

“Playing in the WBC is like playing in a playoff game in March,” Altuve said. “You try to get ready a little earlier than normal. You have to get ready for that and represent your country. I’m very excited to represent my country. We have a great team. We play some great teams like the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. It’s not going to be easy.”

Before he leaves for the World Baseball Classic and Pool D competition March 11-15, Altuve has to start adjusting to the new rules implemented by MLB. He should be affected at the plate and in the field.

Batters have to be in the box and ready to hit with 8 seconds left in the 15-second pitch clock when the bases are empty and 20 seconds with runners on. Hitters can step out of the box once per at-bat, and Altuve is notorious for stepping out and adjusting the straps on his batting gloves after every pitch.

As for playing second base, banning shifts means three infielders can no longer be on the same side. That means Altuve will be required to cover more ground against pull hitters.

“I don’t have any expectations right now,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s going to be. Spring training is the time to get ready for the season and to adjust to little things if we need to.”

The Astros are favored to win another American League pennant and return to the World Series because they have almost their entire team back for another championship run. Their biggest issue involves who’ll start in center field – Chas McCormick or Jake Meyers – and who’ll back up catcher Martin Maldonado.

Usually, a team that loses a pitcher like Justin Verlander would be pushing the panic button, but the Astros’ starting rotation is still six deep, and they return the best bullpen in baseball.

“A Cy Young (winner) has left our team, and I’m happy for him,” Altuve said. “He went to (Mets) and got a great deal. (You don’t) replace Justin because it’s really hard to replace a Hall of Famer like him, but we have to focus on the guys we have here. I’m excited about the young talent we have. We have great team.”

(John McClain writes four columns a week for He can be heard Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on Sports Radio 610 and Thursday on Texans Radio. He does three weekly Houtopia podcasts for 610. He also can be read three times a week on

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