Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Astros honor MLK, begin Caravan tour

Club participates in day of service; Gonzalez, Singleton meet fans, sign autographs
MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Dozens of Astros fans were lined up outside an Academy Sports + Outdoors on Monday afternoon for a chance to shake a hand and get an autograph from Astros players Marwin Gonzalez and Jon Singleton, a sign the team's popularity continues to rise.

Gonzalez, Singleton and the rest of their teammates will be in Kissimmee, Fla., for Spring Training in about a month, but on Monday the two were representing the Astros on the first day of the team's annual Caravan outreach tour. Singleton was asked if he was surprised to see such a crowd.

HOUSTON -- Dozens of Astros fans were lined up outside an Academy Sports + Outdoors on Monday afternoon for a chance to shake a hand and get an autograph from Astros players Marwin Gonzalez and Jon Singleton, a sign the team's popularity continues to rise.

Gonzalez, Singleton and the rest of their teammates will be in Kissimmee, Fla., for Spring Training in about a month, but on Monday the two were representing the Astros on the first day of the team's annual Caravan outreach tour. Singleton was asked if he was surprised to see such a crowd.

"Without a doubt," he said. "When we pulled up, I saw how many people were out there. They're excited."

Earlier in the day, more than 100 Astros front-office employees joined Orbit and the Shooting Stars to participate in a day of service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Astros volunteered at the Houston Food Bank, the Star of Hope Men's Development Center and Star of Hope Women and Family Emergency Shelter.

The Astros' Caravan will make stops throughout Houston and other stops in Texas through Thursday, and the team will hold its annual FanFest on Saturday at Minute Maid Park. For many fans, it's their only chance to get up close and personal with the Astros.

Gonzalez and Singleton aren't yet among the Astros' big names, but that didn't stop a steady stream of fans from lining up for autographed balls, pictures, shirts and anything else with an Astros logo.

"It's pretty exciting," said Gonzalez, who hit .279 last year with 12 homers and 34 RBIs in a career-high 120 games at five positions. "I don't know what I'm going to be doing this year, but I'll be ready and I'll be happy to play any way I need."

Gonzalez, who avoided arbitration by reaching a $2 million deal last week, said he expects Houston to contend again this year. The club added closer Ken Giles from the Phillies in a trade in December and was able to re-sign outfielder Colby Rasmus and lefty reliever Tony Sipp.

"We have a pretty good chance of winning seeing the new guys, and now we have Giles in the bullpen," Gonzalez said. "Let's see what happens. Hopefully good things."

Singleton, entering the third year of a five-year, $10 million deal, wasn't on the playoff roster, but the experience of seeing his teammates win the second American League Wild Card on the final day of the season and advance by beating the Yankees can only be beneficial.

"People are expecting more, including ourselves," he said. "We're expecting more."

Singleton, who hit .191 last year with a homer and six RBIs in 19 games across two stints in Houston around destroying Triple-A pitching, figures to come to camp battling with A.J. Reed and Tyler White, among others, for the starting job at first base. The Astros could make a move to bring in another bat as well.

"I'm just going to go out and play my best game," he said. "I'm not going to be worried about too much other stuff except to play to the best of my ability."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Houston Astros, Marwin Gonzalez, Jon Singleton