Friday Focus: Ryan Rowland-Smith
The Astros have a somewhat limited list of players who have embraced the world of social media, but this offseason, they gained another willing participant when they signed left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith. The former Seattle Mariner goes by @hyphen18 on Twitter and embraces the opportunity to do something that wasn’t possible a decade ago — communicate directly with the fans without needing a go-between to deliver the message.
Rowland-Smith is a native of Australia but believe it or not, he has Houston ties. He also has an interesting story as to how his last name came about. In our first installment of a weekly give-and-take we call “Friday Focus,” we ask five questions that give some insight to our players, off the field…
You’re one of a growing list of players who have Twitter profiles. What made you decide to be on Twitter?
RRS: It goes back to 2009, when I started. I had friend of mine who works for ESPN, Stacey Pressman. She said, “You should try it, the football players are all doing it, and it could be something good.” So I decided just to give it a go. It’s a good way to communicate with the fans. If they have questions they can just go straight through Twitter and that’s how that came about.
So you make a point of responding to the fans who follow you?
RRS: If they have a legitimate question, yes, I’ll respond to it as best as I can. I’m not going to talk about stuff that I can’t tell them. But for the most part if they ask questions and they’re interested in something, I go back and forth. It’s a fun way to be able to do that.
You recently explained through Twitter how your last name, Rowland-Smith, came about. What is the story there?
RRS: Actually, I only found out (recently). As a visiting player you go to visiting stadium and they try to heckle you about your last name, thinking I took it from my wife. I’m not married (laughs). I went back home and we’re sitting around during Christmas and I asked my grandfather, “Hey, where did the name come from?” I was thinking, how do I not know this? He basically told me a couple of generations back, my great-great-great grandfather, his first name was Rowland and his last name was Smith. I guess he was a big deal. When he passed away, they wanted to keep his name to honor him and the family. So they changed everyone’s name to Rowland-dash-Smith.
You’re new to the Astros but not to Houston. What is your connection there?
RRS: My girlfriend’s parents live there. I’ve been there a couple times. I was there for Thanksgiving. My girlfriend’s dad works with Waste Management. They do a charity thing where they go downtown and hand out food. I was part of that, that was my first time being downtown. At that time, I didn’t know I was going to be with the Astros.
One final question — What do you do to pass the time after Spring Training workouts?
RRS: I’m new to the area, and I’m trying to make some friends here. I’ve only known everyone for three days. I just go home and do little things that need to be done, just hang out, catch up, maybe talk on the phone back in Australia. It’s morning there, so I’ll go back and get on Skype, hang out and relax. You try to get an early night because we get here early.