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Astros in St. Pete, but hearts still in Houston

Hinch, players try to provide brief respite to those in Hurricane Harvey's path
MLB.com @feinsand

ST. PETERSBURG -- One of the two televisions in the Astros' clubhouse at Tropicana Field was showing MLB Network programming Tuesday afternoon, a routine selection in Major League clubhouses.

The screen next to it -- the one most eyes were focused on -- was tuned into the Weather Channel, beaming unfathomable images of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey on Houston, the city that Astros' players, coaches and support staff all call home.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- One of the two televisions in the Astros' clubhouse at Tropicana Field was showing MLB Network programming Tuesday afternoon, a routine selection in Major League clubhouses.

The screen next to it -- the one most eyes were focused on -- was tuned into the Weather Channel, beaming unfathomable images of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Harvey on Houston, the city that Astros' players, coaches and support staff all call home.

View Full Game Coverage

This was no regular day for the American League West leaders, who moved into the temporary safe space of Tropicana Field for at least the next three games (and likely the next six) as they try going about their business in a normal fashion despite extremely abnormal circumstances.

Donations pour in from across MLB

Video: A.J. Hinch reacts to Hurricane Harvey

"We've been locked in on it non-stop since the moment it happened until now," Alex Bregman said before Tuesday's 12-2 loss to the Rangers of the round-the-clock coverage. "We'll continue to be focused on it."

For those interested in contributing, the American Red Cross is accepting donations online at redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey and by phone at 1-800-RED-CROSS. Donations of $10 can also be made by texting HARVEY to 90999.

Other charitable organizations supporting the relief effort include The Salvation Army and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, among others.

Also, fans wishing to assist in the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts can now visit YouCaring.com/AstrosHarvey to make a donation. Proceeds will benefit the Astros Foundation's hurricane relief efforts.

The mood in the clubhouse was not typical for a team holding a comfortable 13-game lead in its division preparing to play its in-state rivals. But given the state of their home city 1,000 miles away, Tuesday night's game seemed to be the last thing on the minds of manager A.J. Hinch and his players.

Video: Hinch discusses Hurricane Harvey's effect on his team

Hinch called the Astros "a safe organization," though some players were concerned about family and friends still immobilized in their homes due to the surrounding chaos.

"There are a lot of people struggling," Hinch said. "There are some people here with family that's stranded. It's not comfortable, it's not fun; this is real life and real emotion.

"We're humans first. You can manage them all you want, but you've got to let people be humans. These guys do a really good job of bring together; I think we're all leaning on one another. We're all going through the same thing together. All you can do is hope and pray and stay in contact with your loved ones."

Some players had discussed trying to drive from Dallas to Houston on Monday's off-day, but other teammates dissuaded them from making the dangerous drive.

Video: Jim Duquette on Astros relocating to Tropicana Field

"The rest of the team was like, 'Please don't do that,'" Dallas Keuchel said. "At nighttime, you don't know; you can't see the floodwater. You can't see pretty much anything, especially on the highways. As a brotherhood, you kind of tell them, 'Don't try to be a hero. Let some of the people who are already there with boats, with recovery equipment help out.'

"We have a job to do, but at the same time, it's family first. In this situation, it's kind of tough to put your mind on baseball."

George Springer's fiancée, Charlise, is with him in St. Petersburg, though members of her family are in Houston dealing with the effects of the hurricane. A native of Connecticut, Springer sounded like a man who had spent his entire life in Southeast Texas.

"I just hope that everybody stays safe and that everybody understands there's a lot more to life than this game," Springer said. "This game doesn't mean much, anymore. It's all about your families and helping a city that just got pounded.

"There's a lot of people that have been affected by the storm. It's sad to see. It's tough to sit here knowing that that's where I live; that's my city. It puts it into perspective."

Video: Mark Feinsand on Rangers, Astros getting relocated

For the immediate future, the Astros will make their home in Central Florida, a fact Keuchel was still trying to process.

"It's really weird," Keuchel said. "Never in a million years would I have thought that we would be playing outside of Minute Maid Park where we have a retractable roof for that very reason, which means that the flooding has been almost biblical. That's what you have to wrap your mind around; how crazy it is."

There had been several scenarios floated between the teams and Major League Baseball, including playing the games in Arlington, St. Louis and St. Petersburg. Potential weather issues made each of the first two questionable, and while the Rangers offered to let the Astros play as the home team in their ballpark, Texas didn't want to swap home series, which would have resulted in other complications.

"I truly believe in my heart that both sides were trying to get the right thing done," said MLB senior VP of baseball operations Peter Woodfork. "I don't think there was a perfect solution."

Video: TEX@HOU: Astros partner with MLB for hurricane relief

The idea of postponing the series was not given any serious thought, though Keuchel wondered if that might have been the best option.

"They might be really important to the Rangers here in the next month or so, and they could be important to us for home-field advantage," Keuchel said of the three games. "But at this point, I know that a lot of guys' minds are so far away from baseball that it might be more beneficial to have canceled the games and scheduled a couple of doubleheaders than to have actually played them."

Though the Astros were clearly struggling to deal with the reality that has hit Houston, Hinch made a point of saying that he and his team should not be the focus right now.

"We're the least people affected by all of this," Hinch said. "We're in Florida playing in a game that's completely dry and completely good. I'm still thinking about friends' stories of them rescuing babies and kids, people in trees, people swimming across streets they normally walk across. We're talking about a baseball game. We have the easy job. The hard job is back home where people are trying to rescue people before dark and get them out of their houses, their roofs and their attics. Don't worry about us."

Mark Feinsand is an executive reporter for MLB.com.

Houston Astros