Watt hits homers, prepares for first pitch

Watt hits homers, prepares for first pitch
March 29, 2013, 8:30 pm
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Watch J.J. Watt take batting practice

I threw a full bullpen session, so expect some heat on Sunday. It will be fun.
—J.J. Watt on throwing out Sunday's first pitch

J.J. Watt took a mighty swing. Whiff.

He took another. Whiff.

And another. Whiff.

The Texans’ newly 24-year-old superstar walked quickly out of the batting cage around home plate at Minute Maid Park with a sheepish grin. But he was starting to get frustrated.

He talked to a few of the Houston Astros, including outfielder Rick Ankiel. He took some advice, got a new bat and then the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year went back into the cage.

He took a swing. Whiff.

He took another swing. Whiff.

Another. Contact! He then fouled a few pitches off before exiting the cage again. “This is one of the most embarrassing moments of my athletic career,” he said laughing.

Then, the next time in the cage, he finally kept his shoulder square and delivered a huge home run. Before the next couple of sessions were over, the 6-5, 288-pound Watt hit five home runs as media members and Astros alike watched.

“I had a blast. It’s always fun to come out here,” Watt said. “That’s what I love about this city. Everybody intermingles, everybody mixes together, you know, Astros, Rockets, Texans, Dynamo, whatever it is, we all come together. And that’s what’s so much fun about this city.”

Watt said the advice from the Astros in attendance helped him to finally hit the ball out of the yard. One of his shots went over the Crawford Boxes in left field.

So what’s harder, hitting a homer or sacking a quarterback?

“Tough question,” Watt answered. “Both of them are equally difficult but I like sacking more. So I’ll stick to sacking. Don’t worry.”

While Watt was at batting practice on Friday before the Astros’ exhibition game against the Cubs, he’ll be back at Minute Maid on Sunday to throw out the first pitch before the season opener against the Rangers.

And he’s been preparing.

“On Wednesday, I threw a bullpen session,” Watt said.

The media members in attendance laughed. Watt didn’t. He said he didn’t prepare for his batting practice session but things would be different on Sunday.

“Not kidding. One hundred percent serious,” Watt said. “I threw about 45 pitches. I will be much more ready for my first pitch than I was for batting practice today because I didn’t go to the cages at all.

“I threw a full bullpen session, so expect some heat on Sunday. It will be fun.”