HOUSTON -- Brad Ausmus, who played for the Astros for 10 seasons (1997-98, 2001-08) and has caught more games than anyone else in franchise history, threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Friday as part of the club's "Flashback Friday" promotion in celebration of the club's 50th anniversary.
"It's a little strange being back, taking a left on Congress [Avenue outside the ballpark]," said Ausmus, who retired following the 2010 season and now works for the Padres. "I hadn't done that in four years since I played here. It's a little bit odd. I almost drove past my old house, but decided not to."
Ausmus was the starting catcher for the Astros during some of their most memorable seasons, including the playoff appearances in 1997, '98, 2001, '04 and '05. He understands the Astros needed to try to rebuild to get back to where they used to be.
"They're certainly rebuilding and they're in the infancy of rebuilding, so it's going to be a waiting game," he said. "You never know in any given year they could exceed expectations, but generally speaking, it looks like it's going to take a little bit of time."
Ausmus came up through the Padres system and was traded away as the club was rebuilding in 1996, a year before it went to the World Series.
"They capped off their rebuilding by trading me away," Ausmus joked.