ST. PETERSBURG -- The Astros' series against the Rays marks a homecoming for rookie outfielder Preston Tucker and pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., who's scheduled to start Sunday's series finale. Both grew up in Tampa and attended games at Tropicana Field when they were kids.
Tucker, who made his debut earlier this year, attended Plant High School in Tampa and later starred at the University of Florida. His parents and sister still live in the area, and several other friends and family members will get a chance to watch him play this weekend.
"It's cool," he said. "This is the team I watched growing up. It's pretty cool getting to see a lot of friends and family again and play against this team."
Tucker's fondest memory of his time as a Rays fans was cheering for them when they reached the World Series in 2008 against the Phillies.
"That was throughout the end of my senior year in high school and going into my freshman year in college, and that's what I remember most," said Tucker, who hit a home run at Tropicana Field during a high school game.
The Astros took Tucker's younger brother, Kyle, with the No. 5 overall pick in last month's Draft. He played for the Astros' Gulf Coast League affiliate in Kissimmee, Fla., on Friday in Tampa against the Yankees. Preston wasn't sure if he'd able to make the game Friday, but he is off Sunday and will see his brother play at Tropicana Field.
"He's scuffling, as expected," Preston said. "As a high school kid, he's got a lot to learn. I think he's got a good head on his shoulders and he's going to have a lot of success."
McCullers went to Jesuit High School in Tampa and was originally scheduled to pitch Friday. He said his high school scheduled an alumni night on Friday at the game, but McCullers' turn in the rotation was pushed back.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.