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Astros rookie SS Jeremy Peña earns respect with bat, wins hearts with comment about mom

The breakout star of the ALDS continues to play like a veteran with another home run Wednesday against the Yankees. After the game, he explained his heart sign.

HOUSTON — The rest of the world loves to hate the Houston Astros but it's hard not to like rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña, who continues to shine on and off the field. 

Peña doubled twice before his Wednesday night homer against the Yankees to deliver an insurance run in the 4-2 Game 1 win. He's already had seven hits this postseason and his three extra-base hits equaled a rookie record for a postseason game.

But it's what he said in a postgame interview, that won hearts and scored bonus points -- especially with moms around the world. When rounding the bases after homers, Peña holds his hands in the shape of a heart. The interviewer asked who it's for. 

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"It's for mom," the baby-faced 25-year-old replied with a smile. I mean, how can you not love the kid?!?

By the way, mom and dad, Cecilia and Geronimo Peña, got to see their son's first big league home run back in April. They were being interviewed live when it happened. 

Peña's clutch performances have helped the Astros this October as superstar Jose Altuve has struggled. It was his home run in the top of the 18th that saved Game 1 in the ALDS.

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“It’s everything I’ve dreamed of," Peña said about his first postseason. "The environment, the fans, the crowd, the preparation that goes into every game. It’s fun.”

Peña has also made some spectacular plays at shortstop and was named a Gold Glove finalist on Thursday.

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Credit: AP
Houston Astros' Jeremy Peña celebrates after hitting a home run against the Seattle Mariners during the 18th inning in Game 3 of an American League Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Jeremy Peña's background

The Dominican-born shortstop moved to Rhode Island with his family when he was 9 years old. 

Growing up, Peña played multiple sports and won a state championship as a track and field member of his high school. His dad, Geronimo Peña, played six years for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 90s, so it's no surprise the his son eventually decided to focus on baseball. 

In 2015, Peña was drafted in the 39th round of the MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves, but he decided to skip signing to go to college, playing three seasons at the University of Maine before being drafted in the third round by the Astros and signed.

After spending two seasons in Single-A baseball, Peña joined the Estrellas Orientales of the Dominican Winter League after COVID-19 canceled the Minor League Baseball season. Peña hit .306 in 30 games for the Estrellas before being named Rookie of the Year.

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He spent 2021 rehabbing a left wrist injury that needed surgery before returning to the field in August and being promoted to Triple-A Sugar Land on Aug. 28. Peña hit 10 home runs in just 30 games with Sugar Land.

On Sept. 21, Peña hit three home runs, including an inside-the-park home run and a walk-off two-run homer against Albuquerque. Houston added him to their Taxi Squad before Peña returned to the Dominican league for one more season. He would go on to win a second Gold Glove Award at shortstop.

After Correa left Houston in free agency to join the Minnesota Twins, Peña found himself on the Astros' opening-day roster. It wouldn't take him long to make an impression on the majors after he hit his first career home run with his parents in attendance.

Peña finished his rookie season playing 136 games, batting .253 with 22 home runs and 63 RBI. He also stole 11 bases on the season and solidified himself in the race for Rookie of the Year.

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