HOUSTON -- Monday's shootings at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters in Washington, D.C., that claimed at least 12 lives struck close to home for Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes, who grew up in the area.
Hoes was a two-sport star at St. John's College High School outside Washington and still has plenty of friends and family members living there. His mother, Gale, works in administration for the U.S. Department of Education.
"My mom doesn't work too far from [where the shootings took place]," Hoes said. "It was a sad day in D.C. You never want to see anything like that. You don't want to see innocent people get killed over something that's not important. It's just tough, you know?"
Hoes stayed glued to the television this morning as the news unfolded and spoke to his mom a few times throughout the day, as well as checking in with friends.
"I talked to my friends around there and made sure everyone was OK," Hoes said. "You see stuff like this and it really makes you realize how good you have it sometimes. Sometimes you take things for granted. You really don't understand why people do certain things. Like the Boston situation [marathon bombing in April] and now you have this. It's tough."
Porter takes on 'mentor' Baker and visiting Reds
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Bo Porter spoke glowingly Monday afternoon about veteran Reds manager Dusty Baker, who is in town this week with the Reds in what is now an Interleague matchup, and even went as far as calling Baker a mentor.
"It's almost like father-son," said Porter, in his first year managing the Astros. "We talked today; we talk all the time. We talk throughout the offseason, and he's a huge mentor of mine and a person that I've leaned on for advice at different stages of our relationship. It's a special relationship and will always be that way."
Porter said Baker deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a manager. Baker is in his 20th year as a manager, including the last six with the Reds. He's managed more than 3,100 games and took the Giants to the World Series in 2002.
"You look at the number of victories and the number of different clubs he's led to prominence, the results pretty much speak for themselves," Porter said. "Aside from the resume, just the person he is and the different things in which he has done for the communities in which he's managed and the many people that have had an opportunity to cross his path. His motto is, 'Impact people and make people's lives better,' and he's done that for me."
Baker called the comments flattering.
"It also means I've been around a long time," Baker said. "It's nice to know I could have a positive influence on somebody. We usually have lunch wherever he's been -- Florida Marlins, Washington. He's called me quite often just for advice. I've called him to see how he's doing.
"I respect Bo. He's going to be a fine manager. They just have to give him some time; not only him, but for the players to mature. They've got a lot of young players. The organization has to decide which ones are the right ones to keep."
Barnes fundraises for cancer research with T-shirts
HOUSTON -- Astros high-flying outfielder Brandon Barnes is raising money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation by selling T-shirts that he helped design.
The shirts, which have a pair of hands wearing baseball gloves in prayer with the hashtag #belief on them, are available through Sept. 29 at www.athletesbrand.com. The shirts, which also come in a women's style, are available for $30, a portion of which helps kids fight cancer.
This cause has extra special meaning for Barnes, whose younger stepbrother battled neuroblastoma when he was about 11 months old. At 13 months old, his stepbrother underwent a serious surgery to remove a tumor about the size of a grown man's fist. Thomas French is now a healthy 19-year-old in California.
Barnes was approached by a friend about designing the shirts and sat down with him at a coffee shop and came up with the design. They had it touched up by a professional artist and the T-shirts were then produced for sale.
"My little stepbrother was diagnosed at a young age," Barnes said. "It's impacted me a lot being able to watch him grow up and live a full life. It's something I feel I need to do to raise awareness, because I have an opportunity to do it."
Barnes posted pictures on Twitter earlier this year with A's players Eric Sogard, Seth Smith and Brandon Moss wearing the shirt, and did the same when Angels were in town with Mike Trout, Howie Kendrick and C.J. Wilson donning the shirt in an effort to raise awareness.
• All-Star catcher Jason Castro, who's been slowed by a knee injury for the last two weeks, was scheduled to try to hit in the batting cage on Monday to try to test the knee a little bit more. He hasn't caught in two weeks, and he started two games earlier this month at designated hitter.
• Astros catcher Max Stassi, who's been in the disabled list since he had a concussion Aug. 21 in his second Major League game, will fly to Orlando on Wednesday and begin working out Thursday at the team's Spring Training facility during instructional league, which kicked off Monday. Stassi plans to rejoin the Astros on Monday in Arlington, which is where the injury occurred.
"I haven't seen many ballparks, you could say," joked Stassi. "It will be nice to get back and get the stamina back."