Road trip roundup: Great cities, great ballparks, and a hat tip to a great former Astro.
Astros players are invited to bring their families on two road trips every season, and as expected, the Chicago-San Diego excursion the team is currently taking was a popular one to sign up for.
Both cities are fantastic — Chicago for its shopping, nightlife, restaurants and energy; San Diego for its breathtaking beauty and arguably the most perfect weather in the country. Cubs trips are always fun because of the large number of day games played at Wrigley — it gives those in the traveling party a chance to enjoy a nice dinner on the road, a rarity in this line of work.
Padres trips are always fun because of the scenery and the weather. The hotel is right down the road from the ballpark and there’s plenty to do in the area, which helps when the players head to work early afternoon and leave the families to fend for themselves.
The ballparks in the two cities couldn’t be more different. Wrigley is old, rickety and historic and just a fun place to be. PETCO Park in San Diego is among the best of the “new” ballparks (although by now, most of the modern-era stadiums are at least a decade old and probably don’t qualify as such).
Both cities, while completely different, are great places to visit. It’s nice when you can watch your team win a few games, too. Here are the most recent images from batting practice at spacious PETCO Park:
Big congratulations to Darin Erstad, who was recently named the University of Nebraska’s head baseball coach. Erstad played for the Astros only two years, in 2008 and 2009, but he left a lasting impact on pretty much everyone who worked for, played for or covered the Astros during that time.
I think anyone who knew Erstad during his career would agree he was the perfect professional. He was known for his intensity and unwavering focus, yet he was approachable and respectful of the people around him who also had jobs to do. He never had a “I don’t have time for you” attitude, even if he truly was short on time, nor did he bark orders at the support staff when he needed something.
He came to the ballpark every day and got to work, set a great tone in the clubhouse and was a terrific influence on the young players.
Those veterans — while given labels such as “part-time” or “role” or “bench” players — are an essential part of a healthy Major League team. That’s why Erstad was so appreciated when he was here.
This leaves little doubt about what kind of college coach Erstad will be. The Nebraska baseball program is lucky to have him.
The Astros Player Development Department named the following Players of the Month for May:
Oklahoma City: catcher Robinson Cancel, outfielder Brandon Barnes, left-hander Andy Van Hekken
Corpus Christi: Infielder Jimmy Van Ostrand, infielder Brandon Wikoff, left-hander Xavier Cedeño
Lancaster: infielder Jose Altuve, outfielder Grant Hogue, right-hander Jose Cisnero
Lexington: outfielder Adam Bailey, infielder Delino DeShields, infielder Mike Kvasnicka right-hander Jason Chowning.