Colby Rasmus never really took to living in Toronto in the 3 1/2 seasons he played for the Blue Jays.
Born in Georgia and raised in Alabama, Rasmus has returned from Canada to play for the Houston Astros and couldn't be more excited about the change.
Wearing a pullover with camouflage details and speaking with his syrupy Alabama drawl, Rasmus raved about the move.
"Everything's bigger in Texas and I've always heard great things about it," he said. "I've got a couple of big trucks so my big trucks will fit in the big city. In Toronto you've got a little-bitty garage and I had to leave my big trucks at home. So that will definitely be fun for me."
The free agent outfielder was introduced Wednesday, a day after he finalized an $8-million, one-year contract with the Astros. The deal followed Houston's decision to trade last year's starting centre fielder, Dexter Fowler, to the Chicago Cubs.
Rasmus has hit at least 18 homers in each of his last three seasons, including tying a career-best with 23 in 2012. The lefty batter hit .225 with 40 RBIs and 21 doubles in 104 games for the Blue Jays last year.
The signing reunites him with Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow, who selected him in the first round of the 2005 amateur draft for the St. Louis Cardinals.
"As scouting director, he was my first-ever selection, so we were sort of tied together in the St. Louis media throughout his rise through the minor leagues," Luhnow said. "It was a good opportunity for us to reunite. It's always nice when you have some pre-existing relationship with a player and you know a little bit about them."
Luhnow believes Rasmus will be a nice addition to a lineup already laced with power hitters including Chris Carter, George Springer and Evan Gattis.
"He's got speed," Luhnow said. "He's got power. He's a good defender. I think he's really going to add something to our lineup and be a really complementary piece to what we're putting together."
Rasmus played for the Cardinals from 2009 until he was traded to the Blue Jays in July 2011. He's looking forward to working with Luhnow again.
"We always got along and had a good rapport with each other when I got drafted and throughout the minor leagues," Rasmus said. "To be back with him I knew it would be a good place for me because we understand each other and he's known me for a long time and knows how I work and things that make me tick."
The 28-year-old said Houston was where he wanted to be since he became a free agent. He had been interested in the Astros for years, since discussing what it's like to play here with former Astros star Lance Berkman.
"I played with Lance Berkman with the Cardinals and he loved playing here," Rasmus said. "To hear him talk about it, I thought it would be a good place for me."
Rasmus started 80 games in centre field last season and has played both right and left field in his six-year big league career. He's most comfortable in centre field but is open to playing wherever new manager A.J. Hinch decides to put him.
"I'll be ready to do anything that the team needs," Rasmus said. "We've got a couple of other guys that can play some good centre field. So moving around and doing some things that A.J. might think will help us do that — I'm game in with that. I just want to come in and win and winning is going to be the key for us."
The majority of Houston's outfielders are versatile enough to play all three positions. Jake Marisnick, who was acquired in a trade with the Marlins last season, is the most likely alternative in centre if Rasmus doesn't get the job.
"My goal this spring was to provide A.J. and his staff with as many options as possible and backups to those options," Luhnow said when asked if Ramus would start in centre. "He's got options and if one doesn't work he can always move to another. We know that we signed Colby to be in our lineup. He certainly will be facing probably all the righties and a decent amount of lefties."