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Hobbled Blum surprised by boos from fans

Geoff Blum had no idea he was the hot topic in Houston sports talk radio on Friday until Astros’ Hall of Fame announcer Milo Hamilton stopped him in the underbelly of Minute Maid Park and informed him he was being ripped by fans on the radio.

The fans booed Blum loudly in the fourth inning Thursday for a perceived lack of effort. He led off the fourth with a double, but probably could have had a triple. Blum is still nursing a sore hamstring and isn’t 100 percent, and he abided by the rule of not making the first out at third base.

“Obviously, I’ve had some hamstring issues in the past,” he said. “I’m running as hard as I can physically, and playing with as much God-given talent as I can. And I decided with Jeff Keppinger hitting behind me and hitting .390 against left-handed pitchers, instead of me chancing getting thrown out at third for the first out, I stayed at second base and in scoring position.”

Blum was harassed by a group of fans behind the Astros’ dugout and they exchanged words, but Blum denied saying anything profane or inflammatory. Blum joked that he told the fans his talent is his hair and not his speed.

“I know I didn’t say anything to regret,” he said. “I’ve been in this game long enough to realize with the media coverage that things can get blown out of proportion, and the fact you guys [media] are here giving me a chance to explain things means a lot to me. I don’t feel I have to apologize because I’m going out and giving it all I’ve got.”

To his credit, Blum beat out and infield single in the sixth and scored from first base on a double by Ivan Rodriguez. Still, he’s perplexed why Astros fans would boo him.

“I’m going to play the game to win for the Astros,” he said. “That’s the name on my jersey and there are 24 other guys in the clubhouse, and I’m playing hard for them and the fans. I would never do anything to disrespect the game in any way, shape or form. It’s weird to get booed. I’ve gotten booed quite a bit, but it’s never in a white uniform.”

So what would Blum like to tell Astros fans?

“I love you guys,” he said. “Keep coming out and cheering or booing or whatever you’re doing. I’m going to keep playing hard. I know my game probably isn’t as exciting as most guys, I’m going to do what I can with what I’ve got.”

Astros area scout Rusty Pendergrass is going to the All-Star Game on Tuesday in St. Louis. Pendergrass, who signed Astros’ All-Star right fielder Hunter Pence and Tampa Bay All-Star outfielder Ben Zobrist (who was traded to Tampa Bay from Houston in 2006 in exchange for Aubrey Huff), both in 2004, will take in the game with his son, courtesy of the Astros.

The Astros will also send assistant general manger/director of scouting Bobby Heck to the Futures Game in St. Louis on Monday. Jason Castro, drafted No. 10 overall last year, was Heck’s first draft pick as a member of the Astros. Castro is playing in the Futures Game for the U.S. team.

Houston general manager Ed Wade said he also invited Glen Barker, the club’s director of Pacific Rim scouting, to watch Chia-Jen Lo pitch for the World Team in the Futures Game, but Barker’s schedule won’t permit it.