ANAHEIM -- Major League Baseball's Players Weekend provides an opportunity for players to show a little bit of personality in their uniform choices with fun nicknames and colorful gear. But for many big leaguers, it's also an opportunity to pay tribute to loved ones and those who helped them along
ANAHEIM -- Major League Baseball's Players Weekend provides an opportunity for players to show a little bit of personality in their uniform choices with fun nicknames and colorful gear. But for many big leaguers, it's also an opportunity to pay tribute to loved ones and those who helped them along their journey to the game's highest level.
For reliever Luke Gregerson, it's another opportunity to honor his late father. Gregerson, who wore his father's No. 18 while pitching for Team USA in this spring's World Baseball Classic, will wear his father's name, Duke, across his back for Players Weekend.
• Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com
"He'd have loved it," Gregerson said of his father, who died of brain cancer on Jan. 1. "The guy was the biggest baseball fan I ever met in my life. He loved the fact that his son got to play Major League Baseball. ... He's on my mind every day, not just once in a while. It's nice to think of him, nice to be able to keep reminiscing."
"I think regardless, I still might have put the same thing on my jersey had he been here to see it."
Going by "Devo the Dragon," reliever Chris Devenski touts one of the more interesting Astros nicknames. The nickname Devo has been with him for much of his life, but the "Dragon" moniker was added for his tenacity on the mound by Double-A manager Rodney Linares in Corpus Christi, a city expected to be in the path of Hurricane Harvey this weekend.
"I hope everyone there is safe," Devenski said. "We're over here playing ball but also thinking about those people."
Devenski is wearing his parents' names on the patch on his right sleeve, which is designated for players to fill in the name (or names) of a person, organization, league or value that was instrumental in their development. He grew up a few minutes from Angel Stadium and has a number of family and friends attending the three games this weekend.
Veteran slugger Carlos Beltran is also reconnecting with his youth by wearing his middle name, Ivan, the name he went by as a child, on the back of his jersey.
"It's special to the people that really know me closely," said Beltran, who also has the Puerto Rican flag on his bat. "Everybody in Manati [Puerto Rico], where I'm from, they know me by Ivan."
Houston skipper A.J. Hinch opted to go without a nickname on his uniform but wore the No. 9 on his patch to pay homage to Stanford's recently retired baseball coach Mark Marquess, whom Hinch played for in the mid-1990s.
"Special man to me on a lot of levels," Hinch said. "He's a great mentor to me, a great father figure for me. I just wanted to pay tribute to someone who will always be important to me."
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.