Jose Altuve just gave a surprising update on his Astros contract status

Jose Altuve just gave a surprising update on his Astros contract status
Altuve dishes on playoff atmosphere, fame, extension talks, and more. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Jose Altuve, a self-professed “big hard iced tea guy,” is partnering with the launch of 2 Hoots Hard Iced Tea in the Houston market. Altuve took a break from his historic month at the plate that included (deep breath) collecting his 2,000th hit, 200th home run, three homers in three consecutive innings, hitting for the cycle and leading the Astros into first place in the American League West for a one-on-one chat.

When we spoke, Altuve was sitting behind a tall can of 2 Hoots Hard Iced Tea, the Original flavor, and he double-checked to make sure the label was facing out. He may play second base but he knows how to pitch, too.

Thursday night Altuve will be hosting a special Tea-Ball (get it?) Classic game at Constellation Field to promote 2 Hoots Iced Tea entering the Houston market. The game is open to the public and tickets are free. Spectators must click on to register for tickets, however.

I asked Altuve if he enjoyed the business opportunities that batting .300 presents him. He said, “Yes when it's a company like this. I tried the product and I fell in love with it. I'll be at the Tea-Ball Classic for a meet and greet and I'll be able to give the players some tips. I'm excited about it.”

Now on with the show.

SportsMap: This is an unusual season for the Astros. You’re in a real-life, actual pennant race for a change. Usually by now you’ve already wrapped up the American League West. How's the team dealing with a tight battle for first place?

Jose Altuve: We like the playoff atmosphere. Every game from now on is really important. Every game is a must-win. We have the Rangers and Mariners right behind us chasing us. This is the first time we're finally in first place this season. In years before we would be five or six or 10 games in first place. But I like where we are right now and the way we're playing. We're still hungry about getting to the playoffs and winning it all. That's important for me. I really try to stay focused on our goal, which is winning. We're in first place now but nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is done yet. We need to win as many games as possible and that's where my attention is.

SM: When you have a game on the road like the night you hit three home runs in Arlington, and you go right to the team hotel, do you have trouble falling asleep?

JA: Yes, it's a problem. The adrenaline is still there and the emotions are still there. You kind of start re-living the game, you know, I just hit three homers. It's kind of hard to re-live that game because it happens so fast. You don't have time to sit down and think about the game as you're playing it.

SM: The Astros are a weird team this year. You have a terrific record on the road and you're barely .500 at home. That's not how it's supposed to work.

JA: We talk about why we play better on the road than we do at home. We just haven't found an answer. We talk about getting the same adrenaline and energy at home. Hopefully we'll start playing better at home.

SM: Do you remember the first time you hit a baseball over the fence?

JA: I was maybe 9 or 10 years old. I was excited. It was in practice. I wasn't the tallest guy or the strongest guy on my team. For me to hit the ball as far as the big guys was a really cool thing for me.

SM: What are you thinking about when you run around the bases after hitting a home run? Are you concentrating or thinking about things you need to do when you get home or something like that?

JA: Probably I'm just thinking about making sure I put my foot on all the bases. We all know that hitting homers is hard. It may not be hard for some guys like Yordan, they hit homers every day. But for me hitting a homer is a really cool thing to do. I'm just happy when I do it. Each homer is like a dream for me.

SM: Who was your favorite player when you were a kid? Which MLB team did you root for?

JA: I liked Miguel Cabrera on the Marlins. He is every Venezuelan player's hero. He was 20 years old when he made it to the World Series with the Marlins in 2003, so we all started rooting for the Marlins.

SM: Are you a baseball fan? When was the last time you sat in the stands and watched a game?

JA: I am a fan. I did go to games this past off-season. I went home to Venezuela and watched a few games of my old winter ball team. I really enjoyed being on the fans' side of baseball as well.

SM: How would you rate your acting skills in those HEB commercials?

JA: (laughing) Not good. I really do try my best, though. I think Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena are the two best actors on the team.

SM: Did it feel odd that you have your right hand deep inside a bag of potato chips the whole time in those commercials?

JA: Yeah that was strange. Obviously I had a cast on my right hand from the World Baseball Classic. I think the commercials came out good, though.

SM: You have such a low-key personality. Do you enjoy being famous?

JA: I don't think that I'm really, really famous. I just feel like I'm another guy on the team that likes to win. When I go out I like to interact with Astros fans. People in Houston are really nice to me, especially when I go to a restaurant or a mall. They're very polite. I just don't see myself as famous.

SM: Do you like the quirky way Minute Maid Park public address announcer Bob Ford says your name, "Al-TOOO-vey,” when you come to bat? Did he run that by you before he started doing it?

JA: I love it! I don't think he asked me first. I've never asked why he says it like that. But I love it.

SM: Mauricio Dubon recently said he plays dominoes on the road to pass the time. What do you do?

JA: I read a book. I like to go out for a walk. I'll have dinner with my teammates. We talk about something other than baseball. That refreshes my mind and gets me ready for the next day.

SM: What would you be doing today if you didn't make it in baseball? Do you have other marketable skills?

JA: Oh my God, I don't know how to answer that. I don't have a lot of other skills and I never had a Plan B. It was baseball or nothing.

SM: Do your daughters know what Dad does for a living?

JA: My oldest daughter knows. She's 6 about to be 7. She's a big Astros fan. I know they talk about the Astros at her school. My youngest daughter is only 3 but she's starting to figure it out. She'll say, “Dad, when are we going to a game? Are you going to hit a homer? Did you win?” She's kind of learning now.

SM: Who's the funniest Astro?

JA: I think it's Bregman. He has some really funny stuff to say. He's a character.

SM: You're the only current Astro who was on the team when the Astros were in the National League. You're 33. Does that make you feel old?

JA: It's kind of a weird feeling because time does fly by. Not too long ago I was one of the youngest players trying to earn a spot on the team and stay in the big leagues. Now there are young guys and they're all 25 or 26 or 27. I'm a little bit older than them.

SM: Every time the TV camera does a closeup on you, you're biting your fingernails. Does your wife yell at you when you get home?

JA: Yes she does. I know I do it a lot. I try to kill time by doing that. It's not a big deal to me but apparently it's a big deal to her.

SM: I have a box of autographed baseballs. But players' handwriting is so bad that now I have no idea who signed them. How's your autograph?

JA: I'm careful about writing my name and I put my number on there, too. I think my signature is pretty unique. It's not fancy or crazy like some of the guys. Mine is very simple. You know it's me.

SM: When you were called up to the Astros in 2011, did you ask for No. 27 or did they just give it to you?

JA: They gave it to me. I did pretty good that year so there was no reason to switch. I wore No. 2 in the minor leagues. But when I made it to the Astros, the manager Brad Mills wore No. 2 so I didn't have a chance to ask for that.

SM: Did you ever think that Justin Verlander would be back with the Astros after he signed with the New York Mets last year?

JA: Never, but it's so cool that it happened. When they started talking about it, I didn't think about it too much until it actually happened. Obviously he makes our team better. He's a leader and a future Hall of Famer. He's very intense, the way he goes about his preparation. He's a professional.

SM: How big a deal are you in Venezuela? Is there a street or a sandwich named after you?

JA: No, but baseball is the No. 1 sport back in Venezuela. Everybody loves baseball. We get a lot of support from our fans back there. So you have a lot of people wanting to meet you and ask you questions about whatever. For me it's important to spend time with fans back home and pay them back for all their support.

SM: We know that baseball is a business. Do you think you'll spend the rest of your career with the Astros?

JA: I always say that I love Houston and the people here. This is the only team I've played for. We have one more year (on my contract). We'll see what happens.

SM: Have the Astros approached you about a new contract? Have you started talking to them?

JA: No.

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With both Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers making their way back from surgeries that sideline that Astros pitchers last season, and given the team's thin depth in their starting rotation, Houston fans and media have waited on bated breath for scraps of information to leak out of the notoriously secretive organization regarding their progress.

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In this week's episode of Stone Cold Stros, Charlie Pallilo and Brandon Strange discuss how the fluid dynamics of Astros pitching is impacting the competitive landscape of the division race. To watch the conversation, just click the video YouTube embedded in this article. To listen to the entire episode on podcast, search "Stone Cold Stros" in your favorite podcast app or click one of the following links.

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