First baseman Japhet Amador has yet to report to Spring Training for the Houston Astros and it remains unclear when – or if – he will join the organization in Florida. The Astros organization has expressed a willingness to be patient with Amador, simply stating that he’s been dealing with a personal matter.
His agent, Oscar Suarez, spoke with Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle on Friday and it seems as though Amador’s pregnant wife has been ill in recent weeks and is currently hospitalized. Amador refuses to leave her side, even if it could cost him an opportunity to win a spot on the Opening Day roster in Houston. Transporting her to a local hospital in the United States is apparently an option he doesn’t want to consider.
“I don’t know what it is exactly, but he’s worried that he could lose her,” Suarez said. “She’s having a lot of difficulties. She’s been in the hospital, I don’t know how long now. The bottom line is he would love to be there, but he says, ‘I’m not leaving my wife’s side,’ and he says that, ‘if worse comes to worse, I can play in Mexico and have her next to me.’”
Houston first acquired the rights to Amador last August (though Drellich notes that the team has not yet paid the full total of his purchase price) from the Mexico City Red Devils. He’d just finished a season in which he batted .368/.419/.693 in 449 PA, adding 36 HR and a Mexican League leading 121 RBI. He’d also post an unusual .302/.302/.302 line in 43 PA for Houston’s Triple-A affiliate following his acquisition.
Now 27, Amador could have been in a prime position to impress during camp given the uncertainties surrounding the team’s first base plans.
Houston came into camp expecting a battle for the starting role at first base between Jonathan Singleton, Jesus Guzman, and Brett Wallace. Singleton, one of the team’s top prospects, could be viewed as a favorite by some but could also potentially benefit from some additional time in the minor leagues first. Houston has little reason to rush him, meaning he’d truly need to win the job outright to be in that Opening Day lineup. Wallace was outrighted off the 40-man roster recently, making his chances at winning the starting role all the more challenging. Guzman, acquired over the winter from San Diego, likely has the inside track but he’ll still need to earn it.
It’s tough to fault Amador for putting his family first. Drellich did speak with Astros GM Jeff Luhnow about the situation, learning that should Amador not make the team’s Opening Day roster he’ll likely be returned to his team in the Mexican League rather than report to Triple-A. Houston appears willing to let him pursue such a path, if that’s what Amador wants to do.