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Kemp selling 'Hugs for Homers' shirts for charity

Proceeds going to Houston Astros Youth Academy
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Astros infielder/outfielder Tony Kemp has taken his "Hugs for Homers" campaign to new levels by helping get T-shirts made that depict him in the arms of slugger Evan Gattis. Kemp has started hugging Gattis after home runs, and considering there is a rather large size difference between the two men, Gattis essentially picks up Kemp. "Hugs for Homers" was born.

"People are saying Gattis got hot because of the whole hugs thing," Kemp joked. "He's swinging the bat well. It's good to see him do it. It's an exciting day to actually get this going. All the proceeds are going to the Astros Youth Academy, it's going to be good for the kids who maybe can't afford the baseball equipment."

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HOUSTON -- Astros infielder/outfielder Tony Kemp has taken his "Hugs for Homers" campaign to new levels by helping get T-shirts made that depict him in the arms of slugger Evan Gattis. Kemp has started hugging Gattis after home runs, and considering there is a rather large size difference between the two men, Gattis essentially picks up Kemp. "Hugs for Homers" was born.

"People are saying Gattis got hot because of the whole hugs thing," Kemp joked. "He's swinging the bat well. It's good to see him do it. It's an exciting day to actually get this going. All the proceeds are going to the Astros Youth Academy, it's going to be good for the kids who maybe can't afford the baseball equipment."

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The shirts, which are available at www.breakingt.com/HUGS, are $25, with the proceeds going to the Houston Astros Youth Academy.

"Ever since I was little, I wanted to have a shirt to go to a charity," Kemp said. "If feels good it's actually out there."

Kemp said before Wednesday's game against the Rays that more than 500 shirts had already been sold.

Odds and ends
• For the second time this season, the Astros are shuffling the rotation around Thursday's off-day to keep Justin Verlander pitching on normal rest. Verlander, who threw 122 pitches in 6 2/3 innings Tuesday against the Rays, will throw on four days of rest and start Sunday against the Royals. Gerrit Cole will instead start Monday against the Blue Jays.

• Reliever Joe Smith, who is on the disabled list with right elbow soreness, played catch again Wednesday and said he felt good. He will play catch again Friday, but he is still a few weeks away from getting into a game.

• Right-hander Brady Rodgers, who has been on the DL all season following last year's Tommy John surgery, began his Minor League rehab assignment with short-season Class A Tri-City on Wednesday, allowing four runs over two innings. He hadn't pitched since April 19 at Fresno.

• Veteran right-hander Collin McHugh was re-elected in a vote by the players on Wednesday as the representative to the Major League Baseball Players Association. McHugh will be serving another two-year term.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros, Tony Kemp