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Blackley lends hand to those hit by tornado


HOUSTON -- The Astros' organization-wide efforts to aid victims of Monday's devastating tornado in Oklahoma have trickled down to individual players. Left-handed reliever Travis Blackley picked up some baseball equipment Thursday for a family with three young children who were affected by the storm.

"This family had lost everything and being kids like they are, they were really concerned about all their baseball equipment being gone," Blackley said. "I'm just chipping in, doing what I can."

Blackley said he heard about the family through the wife of Astros shortstop Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez played with the Astros' Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City for 13 games in 2012.

Blackley got an Easton bat and a pair of spikes for each of the three kids.

"I bought the same brands so they wouldn't fight over them," Blackley said. "I've never seen a tornado in person, but you obviously see how dangerous they are with the destruction. It's not much, but hopefully it'll cheer them up."

The 30-year-old said he felt an especially personal connection to the matter because his son lives a few hours north of Moore, Okla. in Wichita, Kan, which is also located in the proverbial Tornado Alley.

Blackley also said he expects several other Astros players to follow suit for other families affected by the storm. The Astros have already been raising money for the American Red Cross' efforts in Oklahoma during the team's eight-game homestand by organizing a Mystery Grab Bags autograph fundraiser on Sunday and a "Jerseys Off Their Backs" silent auction that runs through May 28.

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

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