as told to Shehan Jeyarajah
I got Astro in 2009 when I was called up from Triple A Durham to the Tampa Bay Rays. One of my teammates, [pitcher] Scott Kazmir, and I talked about how we both wanted to get a dog. He had gotten his dog, Rico, from one particular litter.
After that I watched the litter's cameras for two days and picked out Astro, a French bulldog. He was just different. I liked his color, he didn't have any spots, and he was just a big ol' ball of muscle. I liked that.
Since I got him, we've done some pretty cool things. In January 2012, we joined two of my teammates as grand marshals for the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates in Tampa. We rode in the front car, in a convertible. That December we got two keys to the city. They had a big key for me and a smaller one for Astro. That was probably the coolest moment. He loves getting all the attention.
When I was traded to Detroit, I kept getting gift packages for Astro. He gets more gifts than I do. People would send dog treats, chew toys, and leashes.
In spring training this year, the Detroit clubhouse manager, Jim Schmakel, had a pin made for Astro so he could sit in the bullpen. I didn't let him, though, because I didn't want him out in the sun baking.
Over the years, he's taken on my personality. They say the longer you have a dog, the more they do that. I've never heard him growl; he's definitely a lover. He gets along with every dog and person he meets and has never gotten into a fight.
Photo: Mark Cunningham/Detroit Tigers