Results tagged ‘ Focus Friday ’

Focus Friday: Carlos Lee


Every Friday throughout Spring Training, we run non-baseball questions for a feature we call #FocusFriday, where fans tweet their questions and we relay them to the selected player of the week.

Most of the questions for Carlos Lee revolved around ranching and raising cattle — a side business that takes up the majority of the left fielder’s time during his offseasons in Panama.

You can watch the video here, while reading along with this transcript…

@CarlaFendley: Do you raise cattle to sell or is this just a hobby?

Carlos Lee: It’s part of my business. I raise cattle for mainly slaughterhouses. It’s mainly for reproduction.

@irishndude4 How many cattle do you have?

CL: It all depends. In Panama I’ve got a lot more. In Houston, it’s probably around 600. I mainly check them out, brand them, dehorn them, make sure everything is OK, take care of the babies.

@AppyAstros: What do you miss the most about Panama during the baseball season (aside from family/friends)?

CL: I’m pretty used to being in the United States. It’s my job and I’m kind of used to it. I know my time here is (until) October and hopefully it’ll be November this year. I know when my time is up, then I can start thinking about Panama again.

@allphilla Since you are a rancher, have you ever considered opening a steak house a la Roy Oswalt in Houston?

(laughs) That’s a totally different business and I don’t think I’m ready for that. But I would be happy to sell my beef to Roy.

@MrBlaineTrain: Carlos, what is your favorite place to eat at in Houston during the season?

CL: I like Vic and Anthony’s. It’s a really nice steak house and it’s really convenient for me after the games. So I just go there a lot.

Focus Friday: Chris Johnson


Welcome to FocusFriday, our weekly Spring Training feature that invites fans to tweet non-baseball, human interest questions for various Astros players.

Last week, we featured Hunter Pence, and this week’s subject is Chris Johnson. If you’re curious about his hobbies outside of baseball, favorite place to eat in Houston or who he’s picking to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, read on. You can also watch the video here.

@finalfour: Do you follow college basketball and who do you think will win the NCAA tournament?

Duke will win. I follow college basketball a lot. I love it. Duke’s my favorite team . They had a tough blow with Kyrie Irving going down but I think we’ll be able to hang in there and get to the Final Four and win it again for the repeat. They will win the National Championship.

@FreeDrinkPhx: What were your favorite cartoons/kids shows and do you still watch cartoons/kids shows?

CJ: I’m going to have to say Saved by the Bell was my favorite kids show growing up. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like the show Saved by the Bell. And what kid when he was younger didn’t want to be like Zack Morris? I know I did.

@zackmaddox21: What’s your favorite thing to do outside of baseball?

CJ: I’m kind of a movie guy. I like going to see movies. Anything relaxing, anything indoors, just because we’re outside so much.

(What was the last movie you saw?)

Last movie I saw…I just rented Due Date. It was OK, pretty good.

@allphilla Are you a video-gamer, and if so, what do you play?

CJ: I play video games a little bit. I like Call of Duty. It’s the only game I play — Call of Duty or Madden. I’m not very good because I don’t really play a lot but I’m a pretty good gamer.

@EckmanBrandon: What is your favorite place to eat in the Houston area?

CJ: Vic and Anthony’s. It was the first place I ever went to when I got called up to Houston and the crab cakes are outstanding.

@MissSadieK: Will you ever become a member of the Twitter family?

CJ: I don’t really know much about the Twitter or how to set it up. I’m not a big-time computer guy but I do have an iPhone, so I guess that could make it easy. If I can get somebody to show me how to do it. I’m kind of nervous that I won’t get a lot of friends on there. I could probably give it a shot.

(I think the Social Media Director for the Astros could probably help you set it up…)

OK, then, I will get a Twitter account. I will tweet.

@Evie: We know you like Entourage, but what is your guilty pop culture pleasure?

CJ: I’m a pretty big Justin Bieber fan. I’ve got the fever. His songs are great. I listen to them on my iPod before the games, try to get pumped up. I haven’t been to his concerts yet. He hasn’t come through Houston yet, I don’t think, but when he does, I’m going to jump all over it. I just hope we don’t have a game, because then I’d miss the game.

Focus Friday: Hunter Pence


What is Hunter Pence’s favorite meal, when he’s not at the Buffalo Grille? Who has had the biggest influence on his life? What was the first concert he attended?

Welcome to Focus Friday, where we get to the bottom of things regarding your favorite Astros, while talking as little about baseball as possible. Consider Focus Friday a getting-to-know-you session, where we learn about the player — not as a player, but as a person.

The fun twist? The questions come from you, not us. Every week, we’ll ask our Twitter followers to send in their questions, and then we’ll pick the best of the bunch. You can find the video version on Twitter, and a transcript right here on this blog.

We caught up with Hunter during the Astros’ annual sign-everything-in-sight autograph session, hosted by the Community Development department. As you can see from the photo above, there were a few things on Hunter’s proverbial plate. This interview created a nice diversion.

@vitaliano10: What are your thoughts on professional athletes using Social Media things like Twitter and Facebook?

@HunterPence9: I think it’s awesome. Even for me personally, I love sports and I love competing. I enjoy following some of the players in other leagues. I enjoy, whenever we do fantasy football, following my guys that are going to bring me through. I love hearing what they have to say. I get kind of excited when (Baltimore Ravens running back) Ray Rice is talking about his knee or the game or whatever it may be. I think it’s a great tool that we never had as
kids to really talk to our fans. For me personally, it’s getting feedback from the fans, being able to tell them certain things, kind of giving them an aspect of our personality they wouldn’t otherwise get.

@irishndude4: What are your top three road trip cities, judging by the stadium, city, etc.?

@HunterPence9: That’s a great question because I’ve never had it asked as a whole — the stadium and the city. It’s kind of a counterbalance. You could say that Chicago’s awesome, but the field and what we have to go through there is horrible. Well, it’s not horrible, but it’s definitely not the most comfortable locker room.

I love San Francisco’s stadium. It’s not necessarily hitter-friendly but the view, the bay, the energy of the fans…I’ve always liked that city. Obviously they’re not very nice to me, but they’re passionate about baseball. They’re throwing cans with strings trying to steal the balls from batting practice. We have (bullpen assistant) Strech Suba who gets mad at you if you throw a ball into the stands. So it’s a constant war and it’s kind of fun.

Also, San Diego, just because it’s such nice weather. You walk around the city in the morning, go to breakfast…there’s a mall, you can get a haircut.

The third one, I’m going to say Chicago, even though the locker room’s not that great. The city’s cool, and when you play the Cubs, the fans are wild and rowdy. There’s an intensity on the field just from what they bring. They’re packed in and they’re yelling at you and you want to prove them wrong.

@esandler: First concert? Favorite burger? Dream car? Best vacation?

@HunterPence9: (First concert) I don’t know if I want to admit this. I was in junior high or high school. I want to say it was Sugar Ray or something. There were a bunch of teenage girls there.

(Favorite burger) Grass-fed. We grilled out last night, actually, Cowboy Burgers from Whole Foods. It’s good stuff. We had a bunch of guys over last night. The new guy we picked up, Brian Dopirak, who’s in camp with us this year — he’s an amazing cook. Amazing griller. We’re just going to Whole Foods every day, it’s like our new tradition. We eat lunch, pick up a bunch of stuff, invite whoever wants to come over and we grill out every night.

(Dream car) I’m not much of a car guy. What I like — I would never buy one no matter what I make because I know it’s a waste of money, but I like Lamborghinis and Ferraris because they look cool. I don’t know enough about cars and I don’t think I would ever drive either one. I just like the look of them.

(Best vacation) I’m not a good person to ask, I’m not a vacation guy. I haven’t been on too many vacations. I would want to go to the wineries in Napa Valley. That’s somewhere I want to go.  

@benjamintitter: Who has had the most impact in your life? What did you learn from them?

@HunterPence9: I’ve had a lot of great impacts on my life. I think everyone, in whatever they do, needs a mentor, someone that’s been through something that you want to do. You should look for one and a lot of the people that have gone pretty far should be mentors to the younger kids coming up in your field, whatever it may be.

Obviously, my brother (Howie) has had the biggest impact. He’s four years old than me. A lot of older brothers would have kicked their younger brother to the curb. But he’s been my coach and my sidekick the whole way through. He’s my biggest fan and I definitely wouldn’t be here without him.

There’s been a lot of them along the way. (Darin) Erstad was a big mentor when I made it to the Major Leagues. I still look up to that guy and his values — he’s just a great individual. Orlando Palmeiro is another one that took me along when I was a rookie. He sat next to me every time on the airplane. We played cards, talked hitting. I still talk to him today. Those were my baseball mentors.

@therealxAndrew: What does a day look like during the season? Do you have time for friends/family? Are you able to shop for food without being hounded by fans?

@HunterPence9: Fans don’t really hound me. They’re really nice. If a fan runs up to me and just wants an autograph or picture…how could I be upset when someone’s like, “We like the way you play, keep playing the game the right way.” I don’t mind that. I can go anywhere, do anything. It’s just if I have the energy and the time. It’s all about conserving your energy.

Generally I just wake up, I go eat a big breakfast. I don’t really have time to drive to go hang out with my family but sometimes they come over, sometimes they meet me for breakfast. I might play chess, cards, whatever. Watch videos and start getting ready for the game.

@mom2boystx: Besides Buffalo Grille, what’s your favorite type of food?

@HunterPence9: I have a passion for just healthy food. I’m learning to cook from Brian Dopirak this Spring Training. It’s something I haven’t had time to do or someone to teach me. My mom, if she was around, I’ve done it with her a few times. I like fish, I like vegetables, I like colorful salads. Steakhouses would be one of my favorites. I enjoy sushi. Just anything that’s healthy and fresh.

@luckiexstar: If you could be a rock star for a day, what band would you play for and where do you want to perform?

@HunterPence9: If I’m a rock star for one day I definitely want to perform in L.A. If I was going to be a rock band — this is actually a concert I want to go to and haven’t been able to go to — in their prime, Metallica. The song I would play would be “One.” Just to hear the drum solo and the guitar solo going back and forth at the end. That would probably be the most adrenaline I could get on stage, or even in the crowd. So, Metallica for sure.

@lolunix: What music will you be using this year to com
e up to bat?

@HunterPence9: I have not decided yet. I don’t think we’re going to go cheesy just yet. Unless the team needs a rally. Kesha, Fergie, that type thing. At the start of the year it’s probably going to be some rock. Maybe some Godsmack, Slipknot, Korn, Tool. Something to that effect.

Morning news and notes: Pitching schedules, Twitter Tuesday, Focus Friday, and today’s links.

The Astros announced on Tuesday that Wandy Rodriguez will start the Grapefruit League opener on Feb. 28 at Atlanta, while Brett Myers will pitch the next day when the Astros host the Braves in their first spring game of the season.

The Braves have Derek Lowe scheduled for the first game and Tommy Hanson for the second.

While Wandy is opening the spring season, I would not assume that translates into the same order when the regular season begins. The Spring Training pitching order is mapped out so that pitchers throw every fifth day and wind up making their first start of the season on that same schedule. If you count out the days from Myers first Grapefruit start, it would put him on schedule to start April 1 in Philadelphia. Not a coincidence.

As for the rest of the rotation order, that has yet to be announced. Stay tuned.


Thanks to everyone who participated in #TwitterTuesday. The contest didn’t last long thanks to @austincory ‘s very prompt correct answer, but we still had a nice flow of guesses come in and I appreciate the interaction.

For those who missed it, every Tuesday at noon CT throughout Spring Training, I’ll post a Google-free, can’t-find-it-on-the-internet, won’ trivia question on my Twitter, and the first correct answer tweeted back to me
wins two free tickets to any Astros home game this season, with the exception of Opening Day, the Red Sox series and the final homestand of the season.

Yesterday’s question was: What is Chris Johnson’s favorite can’t-miss television show? The answer, which we first posted here in video form, was Entourage.

Next Tuesday, we’ll ask a different question of a different player and you can guess as many times as you want. The only requirement is you have to be following me on Twitter to participate.


In addition to Twitter Tuesday, we’ve also added another new feature — Focus Friday. For this, we’ll ask an Astros player a handful off-the-field, non-baseball related questions that give some insight to him away from the game.

We’ll video the interview and post it on Twitter, and we’ll also provide a transcript on this blog. This is where the fun part comes in — the questions asked will come from you. I received some really good ones on Twitter yesterday for Hunter Pence, and we’ll sift through those, pick the best five or 10, and post them on Friday.

I’ll send out another alert next week when we’ve determined who we’ll be featuring in Focus Friday.


* The Astros have teamed up with the Florida Blood Centers to host a blood drive prior to the March 3 game vs. the Florida Marlins at Osceola County Stadium. The blood drive will take place from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., and donors will receive a free Astros special edition t-shirt, as well as a voucher for a free ticket to one of two pre-selected Spring Training games (while supplies last)…donors must be at least 16 years old and weigh 102 pounds to be eligible to donate and a photo ID is required.

* Two Astros Spring games will be broadcast on FS Houston: March 18 at the Marlins and March 19 vs. the Cardinals.


On to the links…

Clint Barmes knew only the Colorado Rockies until he was traded to Houston last year. The shortstop welcomes a new beginning, he tells Brian McTaggart.

Lots of interesting information in this notebook, including who the Astros’ player representatives are this year, Fernando Abad’s role as he competes for a spot on the roster and Nelson Figueroa’s loss of his grandfather.


The Astros find plenty of talent on the waiver wire. Zachary Levine gives a brief history of the club’s recent wire acquisitions.