HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Astros are coming home and will open a three-game series against the New York Mets on Saturday.
The Astros had to relocate their series against the Texas Rangers this week to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, because of catastrophic flooding in the nation’s fourth-largest city in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The Astros will return to Houston on Thursday night after their game against the Rangers.
“With the cooperation of the mayor’s office, we are going to play baseball at Minute Maid Park this weekend,” Astros president Reid Ryan said Wednesday. “Along with Mayor Sylvester Turner, we hope that these games can serve as a welcome distraction for our city that is going through a very difficult time. We hope that we can put smiles on some faces.”
The Mets series was scheduled to begin Friday, but instead a Saturday doubleheader is planned and the finale is Sunday. The Astros have a 10-game road trip after that.
Manager A.J. Hinch delivered the news to his players during a meeting before Wednesday night’s game.
“Obviously, we’re anxious to get home. We have a series to win, we have a couple of games (left in Florida). But to be able to go home tomorrow night and know we’re going to be able to get to the majority of our houses, see our families is really really good news to us,” Hinch said.
The manager said players who are not able to get to the homes likely will be stay in downtown hotels or with teammates.
“We’ll be well aware of the streets that are closed, and the access to certain areas,” Hinch said, adding that players and coaches are eager to get back and do whatever they can to assists some of the thousands of people affected by the storm on Friday’s off day.
“When I had the meeting in there and started talking about our responsibilities when we get home, and not to be too brave and too bold, and not knowing if we’re going into huge flood waters, are we not going into flood waters, player by player said: ‘Hey, I’ve got an extra room; Hey, I’ve got an extra bed; Hey, I have a floor you can come sleep on,'” Hinch said.
“This group will stay together and help each other,” the manager added, “and then we’ll band together and help as many Houstonians as we can.”
This week is the second time Houston has had games moved to a neutral location because of a hurricane. In the wake of Hurricane Ike in 2008, MLB moved two scheduled home games with the Chicago Cubs to Milwaukee, about 95 miles from Chicago, effectively making the contests home games for the Cubs. Chicago won both of those games, with Carlos Zambrano throwing a no-hitter in the first one.
The Astros lost the opener of their series against the Rangers 12-2 on Tuesday night in front of a crowd of just 3,485.
The Mets are in Cincinnati for a three-game series that concludes on Thursday afternoon. Manager Terry Collins met with players before their game on Wednesday to talk about arrangements for the trip to Houston.
“These are things that I’m sure nobody in this room has ever experienced, so it’s going to be an eye-opening experience,” Collins said. “It’s all part of life.”
Collins compared it to 2001 when he was the bullpen coach with Tampa Bay.
“When I came back with the Rays to New York to play the Yankees right after 9/11, you talk to people who experienced it and you learn a lot,” he said. “You learn a lot about human nature and how people can rise up and ultimately really help each other, which I think is something we need to do more of.”
AP Sports Writers Joe Kay in Cincinnati and Fred Goodall in St. Petersburg, Florida., contributed to this report.
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