Hinch enjoying title, optimistic for more success

HOUSTON — Friday marks one month since the Astros beat the Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series to win their first championship. The weeks that followed have been a whirlwind for the players, who have been making appearances on talk shows, doing charity work and taking the trophy all over the country.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch has kept a lower profile since the team’s championship parade through the streets of downtown Houston, save for an appearance at a Stanford football game and last week’s at the University of Houston. Hinch, speaking Thursday following his appearance on the team’s weekly radio show “,” said he’s happy to see the players living it up.

“It’s unbelievable to watch our guys on the national stage,” Hinch said. “They’re enjoying it and keeping it in perspective. I think they’re all so energized by winning the World Series and enjoying telling our stories. The one thing I love about all of them is they seem to want to talk about somebody else.

“Jose Altuve won the MVP and wants to talk about somebody else. Alex Bregman had game-winning hits and wants to talk about somebody else. George Springer, the [World Series] MVP, wants to talk about somebody else. That makes me very proud.”

As much as Hinch enjoys reveling in Houston’s championship, the baseball calendar keeps going. A short offseason has the Astros only nine days away from the start of the annual Winter Meetings, where trades and free-agent signings are typically consummated and completed.

The Astros figure to return largely intact next year, with all of their key 2017 contributors under contract. They would like to add some relief pitching — especially a left-hander — another bat who can serve as designated hitter and perhaps another catcher.

“We’re fortunate that we’re going to have a very, very similar team returning that we had last season,” Hinch said. “A lot of the heavy lifting’s been done over the last couple of seasons. I’m sure we’ll talk about what additions we can make and puzzle pieces we can find. Industry meetings are always fun, but going there as World [Series] champs is going to be pretty special.”

Hinch will be reunited at the Winter Meetings with new Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who served as his bench coach this past season. Carlos Beltran, who was the Astros’ DH and retired after the season, has . Hinch hasn’t quite developed a Bill Belichick coaching tree, but the potential of having a couple of his disciples as managers makes him smile.

“It’s fun to see our guys get opportunities,” Hinch said. “Half of our catching staff was taken away for opportunities that come when you have a good team and you have a winning team. We may be competing against our own teammates here pretty soon.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for our site since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

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