Astros pitchers Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia are rocking hair extensions for MLB postseason hairstyles

Houston, Texas– Astros starters Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia look like naturals on the hill in even the stickiest of situations.

A lot of work to make it look so easy – at the stadium and, it turns out, at the hairdresser’s.

Both pitchers completed their hairstyles this season with a faux boost and added hair extensions to express their individuality. They’re showing off those locks this postseason as Houston attempts to make the World Series for the fourth time in six years.

“Initially, a lot of people were talking and joking about this topic,” Valdez said through a translator in Spanish. “But at the end of the day, I’m comfortable with my hair and I’m comfortable with my hair, so I’m going to keep my hair that way.”

Garcia, who opened the season with natural, shoulder-length curls, this summer opted to add length and volume through braids that are adorned with beads at the end.

“When I have the braids, everyone knows me better because it’s not a normal look,” said the 25-year-old.

For Valdez, the transformation was more dramatic.

In a bid to stand out at his first All-Star game in July, the 28-year-old left-hander added dreadlocks that fell past his shoulders to hair that was previously cropped short on the sides and grew an inch at the top.

Outstanding dos are not uncommon in baseball.

Longtime MLB outfielder Oscar Gamble sported a lustrous afro in the 1970s, and more recently pitcher Noah Syndergaard earned the nickname “Thor” for his flowing blonde locks.

Quirky facial hair has long been a staple in sports, too — like Rollie Fingers’ handlebar mustache or Al Hrabosky’s Fu Manchu.

Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel has long sported Houston’s most notable hairstyle. Its spiky tip looks like the leaves of a pineapple, and it’s known as “la piña,” the Spanish word for the fruit.

Gurriel wasn’t initially a fan of Valdez’s expansions. He even cracked a few jokes.

“At first I thought he looked very odd with all the hair he came in with,” Gurriel said in Spanish through a translator. “But now I like his style and I think he looks really good and I really like it when people change their style because I like to change mine too.”

It was better received than NBA star Jimmy Butler got for his fake curls this summer. The Miami Heat forward was bombarded with backlash on social media as he revealed long dreadlock extensions. He denied on media day that they were extensions, although his Instagram posts made it clear that they were. By the time he stepped onto the pitch for Miami’s first preseason game, the long-haired look was gone.

Valdez initially took some good-natured teasing from Gurriel and others, but neither he nor Garcia endured taunts like Butler. Both say they don’t care if people don’t like the unconventional styles.

“My mom likes it,” Garcia said. “If she’s fine, I’m fine.”

The hair equipment is associated with a large expenditure of time. Both Valdez and Garcia said initial installations took more than four hours. Subsequent touch-ups take approximately 90 minutes to two hours.

Garcia has had his extensions all summer, but recently took them out to “let his hair rest.” He got a fresh set of thin braids — each with three clear beads at the end — on Monday after Houston’s practice session.

He had no pearls on the first extensions he got in June, and his teammates were at a loss as to where that clicking sound was coming from as they took the field this week.

“It was pretty loud when I left and the guys were like, ‘What’s that noise?’ And I said, ‘That,'” Garcia said, pointing to the beads in his hair.

What does a 15 game winner do in the barber chair for four hours?

“Just watching TikTok during the process and it’s fine,” Garcia said.

He encountered a small problem when he first added his extensions. His hat didn’t fit anymore and he had to get two sizes bigger. He laughed as he recalled that conversation with Houston’s equipment staff.

“Hey guys, I have more hair,” he said. “I need a new hat.”

Houston has had its share of flashy hairstyles. Catcher Martín Maldonado went pink this season at the behest of his young daughter, then debuted a crimson hue in Game 1 of the ALDS. Pitcher Jose Urquidy and utility player Aledmys Díaz are among a handful of other Astros who added blonde highlights.

It’s the kind of youthful exuberance that the sometimes stodgy sport seeks to encourage.

“It shows a lot of personality in the game,” said Díaz. “In the past, when I got into the league in 16, people were more like old-school baseball. You just come to the park and play the game.

“But right now, with social media and other things, players like to show their personality and I think that’s great for the game.”

Maldonado, who has helped both Valdez and Garcia find success on the hill, gushed about her looks. He joked with Valdez that he was trying to be left-hander Luis Castillo shortly after revealing his extensions. Castillo, a Dominican who started alongside Valdez for Seattle on Thursday, has longer natural dreadlocks that he’s been growing for years.

“So now it’s funny that they face each other,” Maldonado said.

Díaz is very superstitious and believes that a new hairstyle can bring good luck. He got a haircut every week for a stretch in 2019 after he started hitting a homer every time he got a cut.

Not to mention Valdez’s pitching skills, but Díaz believes his extensions could have something to do with his success this season.

“He was doing great after that hair change,” Díaz said. “Hopefully he makes the playoffs.”

Valdez, who finished second in the AL behind teammate Justin Verlander with a career-high 17 wins this season, scoffed at the idea that the hair extensions had brought him luck.

But he’s eager to build on his regular-season success at his start on Thursday – the playoff debut for his outlandish performance.

“I’m waiting for the postseason to come and show what I’m capable of and show people that we can go to the World Series together as a team,” he said. “And I look forward to continuing to show my talent.”

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Astros pitchers Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia are rocking hair extensions for MLB postseason hairstyles

Russell Falcon

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