HOUSTON -- Astros outfielder George Springer has dedicated part of his professional life to reaching out to kids who stutter, to make sure they know a speech impediment does not need to solely define who they are, or hold them back from achieving what they want in life.But it's not
HOUSTON -- Astros outfielder George Springer has dedicated part of his professional life to reaching out to kids who stutter, to make sure they know a speech impediment does not need to solely define who they are, or hold them back from achieving what they want in life.
But it's not only kids who have been impacted by Springer's mission. He's impacted adults, too, and even fellow professional athletes. That was the case on Friday, when Springer welcomed Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for a visit to Minute Maid Park. The two took a round of batting practice and bonded over a commonality between them -- stuttering.
"He's a great guy, and a great person," Kidd-Gilchrist said of Springer. "I look up to him."
Gilchrist learned of Springer's stutter while watching the World Series last year. The Astros' leap into prominence, in addition to Springer's yearly bowling tournament benefitting a camp for kids who stutter, has drawn national attention to the cause.
"I'm like, 'He stutters?'" Kidd-Gilchrist recalled. "I reached out to him, and he responded."
A quick chain of communication between Kidd-Gilchrist's representatives and Astros manager A.J. Hinch led to the meeting at Minute Maid Park on Friday. Springer relayed a message to Kidd-Gilchrist that's similar to what he tells kids he's helped along the way: Don't let something you can't control stop you from living your life.
"I was a kid once that didn't think there was anybody else [who stutters]," Springer said. "I know what it's like to feel isolated, to not want to talk. Hopefully a kid can see that you can be who you want to be and live a life they want to live. Hopefully I can change their outlook on things."
Kidd-Gilchrist appreciated Springer's gesture, and the Astros' hospitality.
"I know it's important to him to reach out to people that stutter," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "It's not just us. It's all of us around the world that stutter. Old, young ... it's important to all of us who stutter."
Josh Reddick surprised baseball players at Kingwood High School on Friday, showing up to the school right when the kids were let out of class and presenting them with new specially designed uniforms.
Reddick had first bonded with the team last year after Hurricane Harvey, visiting the players with then-teammate Joe Musgrove. Kingwood High School was one of several schools hit hard by the storms.
Reddick, through his work with New Balance, had a hand in the design of the uniforms. He spent several hours during Spring Training poring over drafts and design ideas before coming up with the final product. The big reveal Friday was a total shock to the kids.
"They didn't know what was happening, they didn't know what was going on," Reddick said. "They just came down from class and saw us and a bunch of cameras down there. The jerseys were all sitting in the lockers. It was a very fun moment to see them get excited and pretty stoked about receiving something so awesome. It was a lot of fun."
Bagwell in the booth
On Saturday, Astros Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell will make his season debut as a guest commentator for AT&T SportsNet, joining Todd Kalas and Geoff Blum in the broadcast booth.
Saturday's broadcast will be the first of several appearances for Bagwell this season, as he is scheduled to appear monthly. The former first baseman has worked Saturday games in the past -- he had multiple appearances with Bill Brown and Jim Deshaies several years ago, and he has also joined Kalas and Blum every now and then in more recent times.
"I enjoy coming down here and talking to the guys," Bagwell said while watching Astros batting practice Friday. "That's just fun stuff. Just come up and talk. Instead of one inning it'll be for nine."
Proud papa Pettis
The national anthem had just finished on Friday when Astros third-base coach Gary Pettis decided to sneak back into the clubhouse to see if he might get lucky enough to hear his son's name called during the second round of the NFL draft.
"As soon as I walked in the door, I saw the 49ers had traded up to get the pick," Pettis said. "I thought this could be it."
It was. Pettis' timing worked out perfectly. He was standing in front of the television in the coachs' room inside the Astros' clubhouse when he heard the words: "With the 44th pick, the 49ers select Dante Pettis."
"It was awesome," Pettis said. "I got to see it live."
Pettis, wearing a 49ers cap, beamed with pride as he spoke of his son, a star receiver at Washington.
"Sometimes we see things that our kids do when they're younger, and you don't really know what they're doing," Pettis said. "I can remember him as I was sitting on the couch watching TV, he would run and dive over me with the nerf football. He was making diving catches then. I guess he was training himself before we actually knew he was training himself, to be an NFL wide receiver."
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.