By Derek Fogel

Houston (SPORTSRADIO 610) – Just three teams in the last 40 years have been able to defend their World Series titles. The Astros will look to become the fourth, but it does not come without obstacle. While nearly no one within the Astros organization has experienced a championship victory and all the things that come with it, the belief is that the foundation of what created this team’s success from the beginning will again push them to the top.

“We know as well as anybody that it’s going to be incredibly challenging. We have a tough schedule, we’re going to be playing more night games, travel is going to be more intense, everybody is going to gear up to play us, and it’s just hard,” General Manager Jeff Luhnow said. “We saw the Cubs get off to a slow start last year.”

Moving on from the 2017 season does not mean it will be forgotten, but 2018 has to be the focus. The change will happen in the coming weeks with the beginning of spring training. For Manager A.J. Hinch, that is where the attention will again be on winning the final game of the season for Major League Baseball.

“I’m going to be the one guy that’s going to be tasked with getting that mindset changed,” Hinch said. “The perceived hangover, or the change from one season to another, is just as much mental as it is physical… I need to prepare these guys to play a championship season and that includes playing in the spring.”

Luhnow said that having new players on the roster that are championship hungry also helps to bring the postseason motivation to the forefront. However, he still credits the core of young players who remain forever inspired by their humble beginnings will still push for more. Those guys are already in West Palm Beach.

“We have really driven players and I think that allowed us to have the success we’ve had the last few years,” Jeff said.

Confidence in each other is what made the 2017 Astros the World Series Champions. That trickles down from the front office all the way into the clubhouse. And most importantly from a manager to his players, especially in the season to come.

“The consistent messaging from A.J., from the coaching staff, from everybody else, keeping them focused, and they’re going to have to do the work,” Luhnow said. “I think it’s more just the constant messaging and making sure that we’ve got a cohesive unit.”