TEX-HOU moved to St. Pete; millions donated

Decision on Mets-Astros series to be made later this week

TEX-HOU moved to St. Pete; millions donated

HOUSTON -- With their suffering city heavy on their hearts and minds in the wake of the devastating floods in Houston caused by Tropical Storm Harvey, the resolute Astros checked in with friends and family members Monday after an overnight stay in Dallas before pushing onward.

Major League Baseball announced on Monday that the Astros' upcoming home series vs. the Rangers had been relocated to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, home of the Rays, starting on Tuesday. The Astros' three-game series against the Mets at Minute Maid Park could also be moved to Tropicana Field. That decision will be made later this week.

The Astros will be considered the home team and will bat last. The games will have first pitch slated for 6:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday, 6:10 p.m. CT on Wednesday and 12:10 p.m. CT on Thursday.

The Astros announced late Monday that owner Jim Crane, the ownership group and the Astros Foundation will donate $4 million to relief efforts aiding the victims of the storm. Beginning Tuesday, staff at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla., which is the Spring Training home of the Astros, will be accepting donations for the hurricane victims. Crane Worldwide will provide the transportation of the collected items from Florida to Houston.

Donations pour in from across MLB

Items can be dropped off at 5444 Haverhill Road in West Palm Beach through Sept. 6. Donations will be accepted from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday.

"We are committed to doing our part to provide aid and assistance to the thousands of Houston-area residents that are desperately in need right now," Crane said in a statement. "We encourage others in our region and beyond to help out in any way that they can."

The Astros, who spent Sunday night in Dallas after taking two of three games from the Angels in Anaheim over the weekend, traveled to Florida on Monday evening. Astros manager A.J. Hinch said the players and coaching staff spent much of Monday checking in with stranded family members in Houston and keeping up with the catastrophe back home.

"The players are concerned about their families, about their friends, about other people's families," Hinch told MLB.com. "It's a distraction just because of how massive of a catastrophe this is. It's certainly not ideal. The rigors of travel and the changes of plans seem meaningless when you really start thinking of what people are going through in Houston. We'll do whatever we have to do to accommodate the schedule, but most important, thoughts and prayers are still where they should be."

Hinch on helping Houston

 Harvey, which came ashore Friday night near Rockport, Texas, as a Category 4 hurricane, dumped more than two feet of rain in the Houston area beginning Saturday as it trudged east, getting downgraded to a tropical storm. Many streets and freeways in and around Houston were impassible, and thousands of homes were flooded. Both of Houston's major airports have been shut down.

"The safety of our fans, players and staff remain our main priority," Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan said. "We are extremely grateful to the Tampa Bay Rays organization for allowing us to use their facility. We'll make a decision on this weekend's series vs. the Mets in the upcoming days as we continue to monitor the conditions. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the Hurricane."

MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced on Monday that the parties will jointly donate $1 million to various relief efforts for the damage throughout the state of Texas created by Hurricane Harvey, including to the American Red Cross.

"The thoughts of the Texas Rangers organization are with all the individuals who have been affected by this devastating weather in South Texas and the Houston area," said Texas Rangers Foundation chairman and Rangers ownership committee chairman Neil Leibman. "We pray for their safety in these very difficult circumstances."

The Astros will raise dollars for the victims of Hurricane Harvey by committing the proceeds from the Share2Care 50/50 raffle for the remainder of the season to the American Red Cross, Houston relief efforts targeting hurricane victims.

Fans with tickets to the Rangers series that had been scheduled at Minute Maid Park may visit astros.com/postponement for information regarding their options for future games or refunds. Fans wishing to attend the Astros-Rangers games at Tropicana Field can visit raysbaseball.com/tickets.

Ryan said the Astros offered to switch series with the Rangers, which would have meant the Rangers would have played host to the Astros this week, with the Sept. 25-27 series between the teams being switched to Minute Maid Park. Ryan said the Rangers didn't want to give up the September dates -- which would have come at the end of a nine-game road trip -- but were open to shifting the series to Arlington this week.

"We started looking at whatever options were out there -- St. Louis, Tampa," he said. "The Rangers offered to host us this week, but not switch series with us. In essence, have all six of our remaining games (against the Rangers) at the ballpark in Arlington. We really looked at what is in the best interest of the integrity of the schedule. They didn't want to end the season playing a 12-game road trip.

"We just feel like in the interest of our players, that if we lose both the Rangers and Mets series at home, going to one location with a roof and knowing we're going to get the games in was a better situation for us. We're looking out for own players and at the same time respecting the integrity of the schedule, which has everybody playing the same amount of home and road games that determines who makes the playoffs."

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said moving this week's series to Arlington would have been a challenge for the fans.

"I say that kind of cringing, honestly, because it pales in comparison to the true-life challenges a lot of people are facing right now with the weather down there," he said. "I say that with being very much aware of the contrast of what's really going on."

The Astros are in the midst of one of their best regular seasons in team history. They lead the Angels by 13 1/2-games in the American League West and have had the best record in the AL for much of the season. They'll send Mike Fiers to the mound Tuesday at Tropicana Field against a Rangers team three games back in the AL Wild Card race.

The Astros are no strangers to dangerous storms affecting a pennant race. In 2008, the Astros were surging toward the playoffs, winning 14 out of 15 games to pull even with the Phillies and get within three games of the Brewers for the National League Wild Card spot. Hurricane Ike was bearing down on Houston, and the first two games of the Astros' weekend series against the Cubs were shifted to Miller Park in Milwaukee.

The decision to play the Cubs only 90 miles from Wrigley Field didn't sit well with the Astros, and 23,441 Cubs fans watched Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Astros. Ted Lilly followed with a one-hitter the following day, sending the Astros on a five-game losing streak that all but ended their playoff hopes.

The Astros, who have the best road record in the Majors at 42-22, are now facing the reality of playing 18 consecutive games away from home. Following the scheduled six-game homestand against the Rangers and Mets, they have a nine-game West Coast road trip to Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim. Twenty-five of their final 34 games could be played away from home. They won't return home until Sept. 14.

"None of us has ever been through this, but we'll do the best we can," Hinch said. "The baseball is still secondary. We just hope things settle down in Houston so we can come home."

In 1992, the Astros went on a 26-game road trip to accommodate the Republican National Convention in the Astrodome. A young team that included Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Ken Caminiti, Luis Gonzalez, Steve Finley and Darryl Kile wound up going 12-14 on the trip.

Hinch said during an interview with MLB Network earlier Monday about one-third of the players' families were with the team in California. He said other families are safe in Houston, but many are stranded at home.

"There are stories in the last couple of days of players checking in and FaceTiming with their families and seeing the water close to their homes and their apartments, and they're locked in with kids and can't move," he said. "Jose Altuve, as an example, came up to me yesterday and said, 'A.J., how many days do I have to play with this on my heart?' And I told him, 'I don't know.' His baby is home, and they're in the house and safe, but there's nowhere for them to go and nowhere for them to escape.

"It's really hard for our players, hard for our citizens of Houston."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.