"IT'S GOT TO BE THE HAIR"

Ken Hoffman pitches 10 questions to Astros star Jake Marisnick

Ken Hoffman pitches 10 questions to Astros star Jake Marisnick
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Marisnick is getting major love from baseball gurus, teammates — and female fans.

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Jake Marisnick's mother knew.

Back when the Houston Astros centerfielder and resident sex symbol was playing Little League baseball, Jennifer Marisnick told Tristar Productions senior vice-president Bobby Mintz: "One day, my son is going to be signing autographs at one of your shows."

"It's true," Mintz says. "In the early 2000s, Jennifer Marisnick worked for Reynolds Sports Management, who represents Jake today. She brought Jake to our show in Phoenix. He was about 10 years old. When she told me that Jake would sign autographs with us, I told that I hoped she was right. At least his agent would know where to find us!"

Tristar, based in Houston, is an industry leader in sports memorabilia, trading cards, and autograph shows. And true to mom's word, Marisnick will be scribbling his name on bats and balls for fans at Tristar's 33rd Annual Collectors Show, June 7-9 at NRG Arena.

Other sports celebrities scheduled to appear at the event include: DeAndre Hopkins, John Manziel, Amari Cooper, Robert Griffin III, Mean Joe Greene, and Marisnick's Astros buddies — Yuri Gurriel, Ryan Pressly, and Will Harris. Visit the site for a complete list of celebrities, schedules, autograph prices and ticket information.

I caught Marisnick on the phone in the middle of the Astros taking two out of three from the Red Sox last weekend in Boston. My plan: "10 Questions, just give me the first thought that pops in your head. Let's hurry, you've got a game …"

CultureMap: You're hitting over .300, that's 70 points higher than your career average. You're hitting with power. And still you bat ninth in the lineup? Do the players realize how crazy good, historically good, the Astros are this year?

Jake Marisnick: You look around, up and down the lineup and the bench, and you see a bunch of guys who like to work and want to get better. I don't think we're worried about the numbers as much as we're concerned about improving. I have the chance to pick the brains of some of the best hitters in baseball, so I'm going to take advantage of that.

CM: Astros color analyst Geoff Blum came up with a nickname for you, Jake from Rake Farm. Are you okay with it? Ever have any other nicknames?

JM: Yeah, I think it's pretty funny. I had the nickname Big Fudge back when I was in Double A ball with guys like Christian Yelich. I got the nickname because I was on the disabled list, and they said I was eating everything in sight."

CM: You're going to be at the Tristar show signing autographs. I have a few autographed baseballs in my sock drawer and I have no idea who signed them. The handwriting is so horrible. Are you a good autographer? Do you ever ask other players for their autographs?

JM: Signing baseballs is a little hard sometimes. We get in a routine when we're signing a lot of baseballs, and I get a little quick with them. But I sign them the best I can and put my number [6] next to my name. I do send some balls over to the other clubhouse if it's a player that I like to watch play. But I can make out their autographs so I know who they are.

CM: You're having your best year hitting — by far. The other night the announcers said you worked on some things over the winter and made some changes. What did you do?

JM: Nothing too drastic. The biggest thing was just getting my body synced up. I think I was a little disconnected last year. When you get everything working together you have a little more time to make decisions, and I'm feeling good up there.

CM: You and George Springer both injured your hands sliding head-first into a base. Now some players wear those silly oven mitts. Wouldn't it be smarter to just slide feet-first? One base can't be worth a season-ending injury, like what happened to you in 2017.

Continue reading on CultureMap for Marisnick's thoughts on sliding head-first, and being the team sex symbol.

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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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