Rasmus homers in return to St. Louis

Astros outfielder grateful for time coming up with Cardinals

Rasmus homers in return to St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- There are no hard feelings or ill will. Everything Colby Rasmus went through during his time with the Cardinals -- the good and the bad -- helped shape him into the ballplayer he is now and, he says, helped make him a better person.

Rasmus made his return Tuesday to Busch Stadium for the first time since being traded from the Cardinals to the Blue Jays in 2011 and went 2-for-4 with a homer in the opener of a two-game set, a 5-2 victory for the Astros.

"I wanted to play good, but I didn't feel any added pressure," Rasmus said. "I wanted to come out and be myself and enjoy the moment and not get too caught up in this and that. I'm thankful they gave me a clap there. That was nice. It feels good to be back and happy we got a win."

Rasmus' return was a popular storyline in St. Louis. He was met in the Astros dugout pregame by a throng of media. Drafted in the first round by the Cardinals in 2005, Rasmus was a can't-miss prospect who never quite fit in in St. Louis and was traded after butting heads with manager Tony La Russa.

"I had a lot of good times here, a lot of great friendships built here, a lot of good people like the fans and staff working at the stadium," Rasmus said. "I got along with everybody well and enjoyed my time. I played hard when I was here. I hated the way things ended up. I definitely didn't see that happening when I first got drafted by the Cardinals.

"That wasn't how I saw my time here in St. Louis going, but things happen for a reason, and I don't hold any grudges towards anything. I was blessed to be able to play here. As a little kid, I never thought I'd even make it to the big leagues. So to be able to even play in the big leagues and put the Cardinals uniform on, I feel blessed to have been able to do that."

Rasmus' down-home nature and long hair didn't always go over well with the veterans in St. Louis when he came up. Being a top prospect, he was saddled with expectations that put him under a microscope that didn't always allow him to be himself.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was a roving instructor in the Minors when Rasmus was coming up.

"One of the first conversations we had -- and he was still just a young player invited to Spring Training -- I kind of heard some things about the previous Spring Training and just challenged him that, 'This is how people are thinking of you right now. I think it'd be a great move on your part to try to be intentional about trying to change that. That's not who you want to be, I imagine,'" he said. "He verified that was true. He had some good conversations with people, just trying to change how he was perceived. He's a good player, and he's ended up having a good career."

When he was introduced to the crowd prior to his first at-bat on Tuesday, Rasmus was met with some light applause, and some boos.

"I was very fortunate to play here," said Rasmus, 29. "It was a great time in my life. A lot of learning experiences, a lot of bumps on my head that I took in my time of playing here, a lot of things I had to learn to grow with. I'm thankful I was able to do it here at an early age."

An older, wiser Rasmus sees things differently now. He's not the 22-year-old on a team full of veterans set in their ways. It was a tough situation for him to break into the big leagues, but it makes him thankful for where is now.

"I worked my whole life to get to a certain spot to be a big leaguer, carry myself like a big leaguer, and I try to treat all our guys the same way," he said.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.