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Kyle Tucker teams with Travis Scott on Topps Series 2 cards

Astros Kyle Tucker
Tucker teams with Topps! Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images.

Juan Soto has been on baseball cards with Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Trout, Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts.

But this one, well, this one was a little different for Soto. This one had the New York Yankees slugger and Puerto Rican musician Daddy Yankee.

“It surprised me. It really struck me when they told me. ... It came over to my house, and I saw myself with Daddy Yankee,” Soto said. “It was just great. I mean, the Big Boss! It’s just great.”

The Soto-Daddy Yankee collaboration is one of two “Signature Tunes” cards that are part of the latest edition of Topps Series 2 as the famed card company shines a light on players and the artists behind their walk-up music.

Houston Astros slugger Kyle Tucker and rap superstar Travis Scott are on the other “Signature Tunes” card. Scott is from Houston, and he gave the Astros pairs of his Air Jordan 1 Low Olive shoes last year.

There are 25 autographed versions of each duo in Series 2, which was released on Wednesday.

“You don’t see too many of those, you see them typically with another player or something like that,” Tucker said. "But to be on a card or baseball card with someone that kind of has a further reach outside of baseball is, I think, pretty cool.”

Daddy Yankee and Myke Towers — another Puerto Rican musician — also are included in the set's “ First Pitch ” insert cards, highlighting the ubiquitous pregame ritual.

Clay Luraschi, the head of product development for Topps, said music, particularly walk-up, and for pitchers, warmup music, has become an important part of the game.

“What we really do is, we think about, OK, the core of it for Series 2 or Series 1, our flagship, it's baseball," he said, "but what are the other things that are like surrounding the game that fans are also interested in? And that’s where we come up with these other ideas that we feel like, you know, fit into the world of the game.”

Tucker was placed on the 10-day injured list on Friday with a bruised right shin. But he has been using Rich Homie Quan's “Walk Thru” as his walk-up song before his plate appearances. He has used Scott's “Escape Plan” in the past.

“Walk Thru” had been Michael Brantley's walk-up tune before he retired in January after finishing his career with the Astros.

“It was kind of somewhat of a tribute to Mike’s career and stuff. And I just kind of kept it going,” Tucker said. “Really the first game I got a couple of hits when I used it, so I just kept rolling with it and it’s done pretty well for me.”

The 27-year-old Tucker, who is among the major league leaders with 19 homers, said he likes Houston reliever Ryan Pressly using Johnny Cash's “God's Gonna Cut You Down” as his warmup music. Growing up in Tampa, Florida, he also remembers Tantric's “Down and Out” as the walk-up song for former Rays infielder Evan Longoria.

“That kind of always stuck with me,” Tucker said.

Soto, 25, has used Daddy Yankee's “HOT” as his walk-up music in the past. He was traded from San Diego to New York in December, and he went with Jay-Z's “Empire State of Mind” for his home debut with the Yankees.

“For me, it’s gotta be something that gets you hyped, it gets you really thinking about what you’re gonna do," Soto said. “Something that, you want the fans to get crazy but you want yourself to get crazy, too.”

Soto has been using “Estamos Arriba” by Bad Bunny and Towers, a song he said he got from Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Willy Adames.

Asked for one of his favorite combinations involving another player, Soto pointed to Charlie Blackmon with the Colorado Rockies. Blackmon uses “Your Love” by The Outfield.

“I don’t know the name of the song, but I know it’s just like, I just know it says that, ‘I just wanna (use) your love tonight,’ and whenever they say love they just turn it off and the whole crowd goes, ‘To-night!’” Soto said. ”It was so good. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is great.’ I think that’s the only guy who can have that walk-up song."

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The Astros are back in action Friday night against Seattle. Composite Getty Image.

The Astros were a season low 12 games under .500 (12-24) on May 8th but were able to turn things around and entered the All-Star break with a respectable 50-46 record.

The turnaround can be attributed to better performances on the field by a multitude of players, but there are still things that could be improved to ensure a successful second half of the season.

As it currently stands, Houston is only one game behind the Seattle Mariners in the American League West division race, and the Astros should have key players returning from injury to further bolster their playoff ambitions.

The return of the King

Kyle Tucker has been on the injured list with a shin contusion for six weeks now, and looks to return in the near future.

The Astros have done surprisingly well without their three-time All-Star outfielder thanks to contributions from guys like Joey Loperfido, Jake Meyers and Marcio Dubon in the outfield. Plus, Jose Altuve, Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, Yanier Diaz and Jeremy Pena carrying the offense while King Tuck is away.

Before getting hurt, the 27-year-old was hitting .266/.395/.584 through 60 games. Houston already has one of the best offenses in baseball, and adding Tucker back would give the Astros another high-quality bat to further bolster their lineup.

The latest update is Tucker has been playing catch and could start a rehab assignment soon if all goes well.

Fix the rotation

Starting pitching has been a major issue this season due to a multitude of injuries.

Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and J.P. France have all been lost for the year with various surgeries and guys like Justin Verlander and Luis Garcia are trying to work their way back from their injured list stints.

Garcia was recently pulled from his rehab assignment and won’t pitch again until he is ready. Meanwhile, Verlander could be closer to his return and is throwing bullpen sessions as of July 14. Getting both of these pitchers back at some point this season will be a huge boost to this roster.

The current Astros’ rotation consists of Framber Valdez, Ronel Blanco, Hunter Brown, Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss. Although not a bad rotation by any means, the starting pitching depth is getting pretty thin and Houston can ill afford another injury to their staff.

Astros general manager Dana Brown has been vocal about his desire to add starting pitching, and could have some options heading into the trade deadline. Players like Jack Flaherty, Garrett Crochet or Yusei Kikuchi, just to name a few, could be low risk high reward pitchers the Astros could acquire to add depth to their rotation.

Another option would be to call up A.J. Blubaugh from Sugar Land. The 24-year-old has a 6-2 record with a 3.46 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched this season for the Space Cowboys and could be a necessary depth piece to add to the rotation.

Play Astros baseball

The Astros have been playing better baseball as of late and have won 18 of their last 23 games. With players like Kyle Tucker and Justin Verlander potentially returning soon, there is reason to believe Houston can make the playoffs for the 8th consecutive season.

The 'Stros will try to take sole possession of first place in their division from the Mariners when the two teams meet for three games at T-Mobile Park starting on Friday night.

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