HOUSTON -- When the Astros sent Brandon Laird down at the end of the spring despite a solid performance at the plate, they told him he would be needed in Houston at some point during the season. And it didn't take long for the club to give him a call.
Laird, called up on Thursday when Brett Wallace was sent to Triple-A Oklahoma, joined the club on Friday after hitting .353 with five doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs in 12 games with the RedHawks. He hit .328 with three doubles, five homers and 12 RBIs in 29 games this spring, but was called into manager's Bo Porter's office and sent down.
"The meeting in Spring Training wasn't what I was expecting, but like Bo said, 'Go down there and take care of your business and we'll see you soon,'" Laird said. "I went down there and did what I needed to do and got some good at-bats, and just worked hard and got back here."
Laird, who can play first and third and maybe some outfield, admitted he was keeping close tabs on the Astros while he was at Triple-A and was sleeping when he got the call from RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco telling him he was heading to Houston.
"I was hoping it was a matter of time and I wanted to concentrate on what I had to do down there," he said. "I didn't want to go down there and mope and not work hard, and then be down there longer. I wanted to continue what I was doing in the spring and fortunately I did, and I'm excited to be here now."
Porter said Laird should have made the club out of Spring Training.
"You can only take 25 guys," the skipper said. "Like I explained to him, he was a victim of a numbers crunch. He's been around the game and been in different organizations, and he understands what happens. To his credit, he went to Triple-A and didn't hold his head down, and warranted being called up."
Pena's family safe amidst Boston manhunt
HOUSTON -- The manhunt that had the city of Boston on lockdown for much of Friday hit close to home for Astros first baseman Carlos Pena, whose sisters and parents are in the city.
Police were searching door-to-door for the second of two suspects in Monday's deadly bombing at the Boston Marathon after one suspect was killed late Thursday in a firefight with police. Boston residents are being ordered to shelter in place.
Pena, who spent part of his childhood in Boston and attended Northeastern University, said his parents are in town from Florida visiting his sister, who has an apartment in the Boston area.
"They're calm, they're inside, they're not going anywhere," Pena said. "They're trusting the fact it will be taken care of, and sooner or later we'll have this guy in custody."
Pena has watched the events unfold since Monday's bombing with disbelief.
"It's something that's very unfortunate what's going on," he said. "Sometimes you have this helpless feeling that you wish you could do more. It's very maddening at the same time and it makes me angry to think that would happen, and I just wish I could do more. At the same time, I trust the authorities. They're unbelievable. They're doing all they can to neutralize the situation and diffuse the danger."
Pena admitted it was upsetting seeing the streets shut down, streets he walked nearly every day while he was going to school in the area.
"It's surreal," he said. "It's almost like a movie, you know? But I also understand there is some real danger there and they are taking the precautions necessary, and hopefully sooner or later we'll know more about the situation. It's kind of nerve-wracking. I get this helpless feeling that there's nothing I can do. I have my family members locked inside the apartment because they can't move."
Astros, Porter pay homage to Jackie Robinson
HOUSTON -- Because the Astros were on the road for Jackie Robinson Day on Monday, the club recognized the man who broke baseball's color barrier prior to Friday's game.
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Manager Bo Porter was joined by first-base coach Dave Clark and players Chris Carter, Justin Maxwell and Wesley Wright on the field with kids from the Astros Urban Youth Academy.
Porter, who's the second full-time African American manager in Astros history, took advantage of Thursday's off-day by taking his wife to see the movie '42,' which depicts the struggles Robinson had to endure.
"It's a must-see for everyone," Porter said. "They did a great job of presenting the information and really letting the country see all of the struggles in which Jackie Robinson had to deal with, not just from a baseball standpoint, but just from the media standpoint, his teammates, all the different parameters that came with him being the first African American in Major League Baseball.
"It gives you a great appreciation when you really to get see what someone else had to experience, just for a person like myself and many other people to have the opportunity we had. It really makes you take a step back and appreciate it and feel a sense of responsibly."
Porter, who was recognized by the Rangers during his playing days with the Jackie Robinson Award, said the movie brought him to tears.
"To be able to see it played out on the big screen and have a background with it, it was emotional," he said. "It brought tears to my eyes at the end. It was more tears of joy than anything."
• The Astros played with 24 players on their active roster on Friday. They designated left-hander Xavier Cedeno for assignment on Thursday to open up a spot on the 40-man roster, when infielder Brandon Laird was called up, and they had yet to replace that spot. Manager Bo Porter said someone would be added following Friday's game.