Jones near return; Berkman to be honored

September 11th, 2021

HOUSTON -- What matters most now that Taylor Jones is past his recent bout with COVID-19 is that he experienced only minor symptoms, he was able to recover quickly, and he and his family are all healthy.

But from a baseball perspective, it’s fair to say that the timing of this wasn’t great.

Jones has performed well during his time with the Astros this season and had an especially nice showing in August, hitting .333 (15-for-45) in a limited role. A strong finish to the regular season could net him a spot on the playoff roster, depending on how the club decides to configure things come October.

The missed time won’t necessarily hinder Jones’ chances, but being out for a couple of weeks this time of year wasn’t ideal. He has some time to make up for it, and he began that process this week, working out with the Astros at Minute Maid Park in anticipation of a likely rehab assignment.

“It was a bummer, when I woke up with the symptoms,” The 6-foot-7 infielder said. “Obviously, this is a time of the season where it’s crucial. I didn’t want to get anybody else sick. That was my first thought -- I can’t get anybody else sick. Testing positive was kind of a bummer, but hopefully, I can come back and get right back to it.”

Both Jones and Zack Greinke, who is slated to return to the club on Tuesday while the team is in Arlington, acknowledged on Saturday that their absence was due to a positive COVID-19 test. Both said they are vaccinated.

Jones spent five days quarantined in a hotel in Seattle when he received his diagnosis, and then flew to Houston for another five days of isolation. The club set him up with workout equipment in his hotel rooms to give him an opportunity to stay in shape, and Jones said he was able to get outside and do some running while he was in Seattle. Jones said he did not have any stamina or respiratory issues from the virus.

The workouts in his room were designed to help him stay in shape, but also to curb boredom.

“I threw against the bed, couch, cushions,” Jones said. “To not spend too much time sitting on the couch watching Netflix.”

Berkman to be honored Sunday
Prior to Sunday’s game, the Astros will honor former first baseman/outfielder Lance Berkman for his induction into the Astros Hall of Fame. The original induction ceremony was Aug. 7, but Berkman was unable to attend due to a member of his family testing positive for COVID-19.

Berkman was one of five former players who were elected to the Astros Hall of Fame class of 2021. The others were Bob Watson, Cesar Cedeno, Roy Oswalt and Billy Wagner. Roy Hofheinz, the first owner in franchise history, was also inducted.

Gala raises $2 million
The Astros raised approximately $2 million at their annual Diamond Dreams Gala, which took place on Thursday at Minute Maid Park. The event, usually held in January, was postponed due to the pandemic. Lyle Lovett and His Large Band headlined the gala, which drew around 800 patrons.

Proceeds from the gala benefited the Astros Foundation and New Hope Housing, which provides affordable, permanent housing with support services for people who live on limited incomes.

“This is the sixth year for the event, and we hope to raise awareness for New Hope Housing, and also the work they do, and the work that we do,” said Twila Carter, the Astros senior vice president of community affairs and executive director of the Astros Foundation.

The Astros also announced that the Astros Foundation Charity Game that took place during the live broadcast on Friday raised $385,100. Proceeds will benefit the foundation’s Childhood Cancer efforts. Those groups include B.I.G. Love Cancer Care, Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance and the Sunshine Kids Foundation.