KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Like teammate Robbie Grossman, Astros pitcher Sam Demel is a Houston-area native who grew up cheering for the team he's now playing for. Demel graduated for Spring High School, just north of Houston, and played collegiately at TCU.
"I grew up watching the Astros and going to the games, so it's kind of a homecoming," said Demel, claimed off waivers from Arizona on Nov. 1. "It's a nice feeling. You always want to play for your hometown team."
Demel grew up in the same neighborhood as Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett, who was a phenom at Spring High. In fact, Demel lived in the house behind Beckett's and later went on to break his high school strikeout record.
"It was a good breeding ground for athletes down there," he said. "I haven't been back there for a while, so I don't know what it looks like."
Demel, a reliever competing for a spot in the bullpen, has made 72 career relief appearances, all for the D-backs. He spent most of last year with Triple-A Reno, but knows the Astros present a chance to get some innings.
"I was in a logjam in Arizona, so it's nice to get to play where you get an opportunity," he said. "It was a great day for me [getting claimed by Houston]. It was my anniversary when I got claimed, so it was even better."