HOUSTON -- Houston starts a four-game series at Boston on Thursday, with many of the Astros players having never played at Fenway Park.
One Astros player who is very familiar with the city and the ballpark is Carlos Pena, who went to high school and college (Northeastern) in the Boston area, and who still has family and friends there. Pena has played extensively in the American League and played briefly for the Red Sox in 2006.
Even though the crowd will be pro-Red Sox, Pena said his teammates would enjoy the experience, especially those who will make their Fenway Park debut.
"It's going to be awesome," Pena said. "Everybody's going to enjoy it. There's so much history there. It's a special place."
In September 2008 at Fenway Park, Pena's three-run home run in the 14th inning lifted Tampa Bay to a 4-2 win over the Red Sox.
"It was one of my most special moments," Pena said.
Grossman takes over for injured Maxwell
HOUSTON -- A day after being called up to the Astros from Triple-A Oklahoma City, switch-hitting Robbie Grossman got the start in center field and batted leadoff Wednesday in his Major League debut against Seattle.
Grossman, who has led off his entire professional career, tallied his first Major League hit in the third inning, and he went on to score a run after doubling to lead off the fifth. He had taken the roster spot of Justin Maxwell, who fractured his left hand in Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Mariners and is on the 15-day disabled list.
"I'm just soaking it all up and enjoying the guys and enjoy playing on this [Minute Maid Park] field," the 23-year-old Grossman said before the game. "I just want to put on the uniform and play hard for these guys. I've been waiting a long time to do this. "
Grossman, who was raised in the Houston area, led Cy-Fair High School to the 2007 Class 5A state baseball championship. He was acquired from the Pirates in the Wandy Rodriguez trade at the trade deadline last year.
"I grew up in Houston; I grew up rooting for the Astros," Grossman said. "When I got traded over here I was excited to represent the Astros. I went to quite a few games in the Astrodome."
Grossman, ranked No. 18 on the Astros' Top 20 Prospects list, was hitting .324 with 13 runs and a .452 on-base percentage in 19 games for Oklahoma City, going 9-for-22 in his last five games. Astros manager Bo Porter liked what he saw of Grossman in Spring Training.
"Every time we put him in the game, something positive happened," Porter said before Wednesday's game. "High on-base percentage, he's a high-energy guy. He's a baseball player. He makes things happen."
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.