5/22/2013 12:30 A.M. ET
Tornado very close to Astros' Triple-A affiliate
By Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire / MLB.com
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."
Norris exits game with back injury
HOUSTON -- Astros ace Bud Norris left Tuesday's game against the Kansas City Royals due to tightness in his back.
Norris blanked the Royals through six innings, allowing five hits, no runs and striking out two.
"We're only going to push him so far," said Astros manager Bo Porter. "During that long [sixth] inning, he tightened up and got stretched out, but I think we made the right decision getting him out of the game, especially since he has an extra day of rest before his next start."
He initially came back out to pitch the seventh inning, but Porter and head athletic trainer Nate Lucero visited the mound after his warmup pitches and Norris was removed for reliever Travis Blackley.
"He said [his back] was tightening up a little bit, and that's all I needed to know to go ahead and make a decision to take him out," Porter said.
Norris was originally slated to pitch on Sunday, but Porter pushed the right-hander's start back two days because of lower back issues that took Norris out of last Monday's outing against the Tigers.
With his six innings of shutout work, the 28-year-old has now allowed just eight earned runs in six home starts this season.
Blackley promptly surrendered two runs in the seventh inning after replacing Norris.
Cruz, Ocampo to represent Astros at MLB Draft
HOUSTON -- A decorated member of the Astros' past and one of the men tasked with scouting the franchise's future will help usher in the next crop of Houston Astros.
Jose Cruz, a two-time All-Star for Houston during the 1980s, and Astros director of international Oz Ocampo were announced Tuesday as the team's representatives at next month's Major League Baseball Draft.
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place from June 6-8, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 6, at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on June 7, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on June 8, starting at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Cruz won two Silver Sluggers with the Astros, held the franchise record for most games played (1,870) until Craig Biggio eclipsed the mark in 2001 and has his number 25 jersey hanging in the Minute Maid Park rafters. It was retired in 1992.
He was also prominently involved in all of the Astros' nine playoff appearances, three as a player from 1980-86 and six more as an assistant coach between '97 and 2005.
Ocampo was hired last August after working as a specialist in International Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball's Commissioner's Office for nearly two seasons.
Ocampo primarily oversees the team's global scouting and player development programs, and he represents the Astros' brand across the world.
The Astros have the first pick in the First-Year Player Draft for the fourth time in franchise history and the second year in a row.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Chris Abshiret is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.