HOUSTON -- Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole is a wine enthusiast and avid cook. For the past couple of years, his friends back home in California have urged him to put “Chef G” on the back of his jersey during Players’ Weekend, but Cole chose “Cole Train,” the nickname given to him in Pittsburgh by the late MLB.com beat writer Tom Singer.
This year, however, Cole is going with “Chef G” for the Aug. 23-25 Players’ Weekend when the Astros host the Angels, the team Cole grew up cheering for.
“I figured I had done [Cole Train] for a while, and it’s probably on my MLB page or whatever,” Cole said. “A lot of my friends at home call me ‘Chef G.’ They wanted me to do it, so I went with it.”
For the third consecutive year, players around the league will be able to showcase their personalities by selecting nicknames for themselves to be on the backs of their jerseys. They will be given the chance to design, wear and use creatively colored and decorated equipment including bats, spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves and catcher’s equipment.
Astros infielder Aledmys Diaz is going with “Papito,” which is a shout-out to his 3-year-old son.
“Last year was the first year I used it, and that weekend I hit a lot,” Diaz said. “It’s more for to remind me how important it is to play this game, and I do it for him. Everything I do is for him, and I’m glad to have that on my back.”
Earlier this season, outfielder Josh Reddick wore a jersey around the clubhouse that read “Mr. Irrelevant” across the back, and he’s chosen to wear that on Players’ Weekend as well. Reddick said the nickname was born out of his friendship with follow outfielders and nearby locker mates George Springer and Michael Brantley, who give him a hard time for butting into their conversations.
“It’s become a fun joke between the three of us, and the whole team gets into it,” Reddick said.
A new wrinkle to this year’s Players Weekend is players will be permitted to use their personal handheld mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, on the field or in the dugout to promote the event via social media. Also prior to and after the game, each player will again have the option to wear a T-shirt highlighting a cause or charity of his choice.
During the games, players will wear specially designed monochromatic all-black and all-white uniforms created specifically for the weekend-long event. Each home team decided which colorway it will wear during the weekend with each visiting team wearing the other uniform option. Pitchers on teams wearing white uniforms will wear black caps to ensure all umpires and batters have clear visibility of each pitch.
• All-Star right-hander Ryan Pressly, on the injured list with a sore right knee, was scheduled to make a rehab start on Tuesday night for Double-A Corpus Christi at Frisco. If all goes well, he would be activated prior to Friday’s series at Baltimore, though Hinch kept the team open for more than one rehab outing.
• Right-hander Brad Peacock (shoulder soreness) will make his second rehab start on Wednesday night for Triple-A Round Rock, which is in El Paso. In his first rehab start Saturday, Peacock allowed five runs on three hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings, throwing 33 pitches.
• Right-hander Josh James (shoulder soreness) shifted his rehab to the team’s facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. He’s still playing catch and could get off the mound in the next week or so.
• Astros pitching coach Brent Strom will likely remain away from the team through this weekend’s series in Baltimore as he recovers in the hospital from gastrointestinal surgery. Hinch said one of the coaches visited him Monday and took a picture of him studying the National League West. The skipper said Strom is in good spirits and recovering well.