This was life on the road Friday morning for three members of the Astros, before they headed back for the team bus that would take them to Citi Field and the next game of a series against the Mets. They became the latest Major League Baseball players to tour, make videos, sign memorabilia and share some fun at the MLB Fan Cave -- an especially welcomed rest period on this road trip, where the club is hoping to end a seven-game losing streak.
"It's huge," said Harrell, who is 10-9 and will start the series finale on Sunday. "It gets your mind off it for a little bit. Also, it lets you know, 'Hey, this game is fun, and you can have some fun with it, too.'"
"Every day is a new day," said Norris, who will start Tuesday's homestand opener against Matt Cain and the Giants. "You've got to remember what we learned from last night or two days prior, but today is a new day. We get another opportunity and a challenge to go out there and win one today. So you've got to really remember what you learned, and you kind of look forward to the future as well."
The Fan Cave production crew used a life-sized cardboard cutout of Altuve to make a comedic video. When the video is released sometime next week, you will see the trio searching all over the 15,000-square-foot facility at Fourth Street and Broadway for things to measure -- using Altuve's likeness. They use his cutout in the Astros' brick-red jersey to measure everything from the width of the 15-TV-screen Cave Monster, to a hot dog, to the tube slide, to a New York pizza slice to the four Cave Dwellers themselves.
Characteristically, Altuve takes it all in great fun. After all, he is making a living out of making the most of his stature. At 5-foot-5, the second baseman is the shortest player in the Majors since Freddie Patek, a 5-foot-5 infielder who played from 1968-81. Altuve represented the Astros in the 2012 All-Star Game, playing 4 1/2 innings for the National League, and has been a consistent bright spot all season with a .304 average and 141 hits over 116 games.
Among all Major League second basemen, only Robinson Cano has more hits (145) than Altuve, and they are tied for No. 1 in average.
"That was pretty fun," Altuve said of the Fan Cave skit. "They did everything with me. I really like being a little guy playing in the big leagues. You don't have to be real tall to play in the big leagues. I've got to keep playing hard and show people I can play."
The Astros are playing these days with a new interim manager, Tony DeFrancesco. When asked how they approach this final month to a rebuilding season, the players tried not to look past the evening's matchup against the Mets' Jon Niese, who has been hot of late.
"Every day's a new day," Altuve said. "You just try to go day-by-day, play hard. We've got a team we can do it, we're going to play hard and see what happens the rest of the season."
"I really just want to play hard till the end," Norris added. "A lot of people are out there watching us still. We know we're going to get better in time, it's going to take some time.
"We have a lot of young guys who are going to have to learn together and come together and play hard. It's something we've been doing every day. We're getting a little better and a little closer together. You've got to build that camaraderie. It's something we're doing every day, even with our new manager."
Their favorite things about the Fan Cave?
"Winning the home run derby for me was pretty special," Norris said. "Taking down Lucas isn't easy to do these days."
"I would say probably coming back from a big deficit in Skee-ball, that was pretty big," Harrell said. "I just got lucky at the end, got the 100, and rolled with it."
"I really liked the slide," Altuve added. "I enjoyed it."
Altuve and Norris each went down the slide, but Harrell abstained.
"No way," Harrell said. "I hurt my ankle on one of those before."