Tornado very close to Astros' Triple-A affiliate

HOUSTON -- The devastation from Monday's tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., hit close to home for the Astros' Triple-A affiliate from Oklahoma City. The RedHawks are playing a series in Fresno, Calif., but they have been trying to keep up with what was happening back home.

As the storm was approaching, members of the Oklahoma City staff and the wives and family members of the players came to Bricktown Ballpark, which is about 11 miles from where the tornado leveled homes for blocks and killed dozens of people. They waited out the storm in the team's underground clubhouse, but there was no damage to that immediate area.

"Everybody's been glued to the TV," RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco said following Tuesday's 15-2 win over Fresno. "A lot of the players have their wives and family there. I know the RedHawks had them come to the stadium and go underneath to the locker room. We've been watching the coverage and it's really hit close to home."

During at a team meeting Monday to talk about the series, the players began asking what they can do to help Moore when they return home. The RedHawks have two more games in Fresno and four in Iowa before returning to Oklahoma City on May 29.

The team was forced to move the start of the Big 12 baseball tournament back one day in the wake of the storm. It will get underway Thursday at Bricktown Ballpark and will feature a pool-play format instead of a double-elimination tournament.

"We debated canceling the tournament in deference to the devastating tragedy in Moore, but were encouraged by Oklahoma City leaders and the Oklahoma City All-Sports Association to go forward," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. "We believe the tournament can serve as a testament to the strong Oklahoma spirit and to the resiliency of the Oklahoma people."

The Astros' Double-A affiliate in Corpus Christi will begin taking donations of good-quality clothing for all ages, canned goods, toiletries, blankets, bedding, tents and bottled water at a trailer parked outside the main gates on Whataburger Field on Wednesday. They will also accept cash donations.

The staff for the Double-A Hooks will man the trailer from 90 minutes before first pitch until the third inning. Donations made after the third inning and during business hours can be left at the Whataburger Field offices, right of main gates.

Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who picked up his first win of the season by throwing 6 2/3 innings on Monday, was born in Tulsa, Okla., and has some family in Enid, Okla. He understands the fury tornadoes can cause in the area, having ridden out a tornado at church when he was 8 or 9.

"It was like a blur," Keuchel said. "The only I remember is finding a mattress on top of us. That was scary enough. I didn't really know the true effect of tornadoes and twisters and stuff like that until I went to high school, and that's when I really noticed."

DeFrancesco said his players are prepared to do what they can to help.

"We're ready to volunteer," DeFrancesco said. "Anything we can do when we get back, we're willing to help out. It's a great group of guys that care about the community. When you play in that city, you're part of it now."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Chris Abshiret is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.