Devenski learned value of hard work from Dad

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HOUSTON — Chris Devenski learned the value of hard work at an early age, accompanying his father, Mike Devenski Jr., who owns a moving and storage company in Artesia, Calif., on jobs while growing up. He’d carry and tape up boxes before graduating to bigger tasks as he grew older and stronger. It was tough work and early mornings.

Devenski, the Astros’ ace relief pitcher, would get paid in cash or meals — or even sneakers — which is all a growing teenager really needs anyway. Along the way, Devenski developed into an accomplished pitcher, and he used his father’s worth ethic to excel on the diamond. So when Mike Devenski got a chance to see Chris pitch in the big leagues for the first time last year, it was a moment neither of them will forget.

“I threw against Kansas City that night and came out of the bullpen,” Chris said. “He was there before the game and he kind of broke down a little bit. I’ve never seen him do that. It was pretty special to me, and all the memories kind of came together at that time. It was something special.”

Mike Devenski still isn’t used to the idea of seeing his only son Chris — who has a twin sister, Amanda — pitching on a big league field. When the Astros were in New York earlier this year, the family was together on the field at Yankee Stadium to soak it all in. Chris’ mother, Shirley, was there as well.

“We didn’t know he was going to go this far,” Mike said. “We were just trying to get through high school and college at the time.”

Seeing Chris pitch for the Astros for the first time brought tears to Mike’s eyes because he knows how hard his son worked on and off the field.

“You don’t even know the feeling,” he said.

Chris can recall playing catch with his dad in a park in Artesia. His dad would throw him batting practice, but at one point, Chris was hitting the ball so hard, they had to change the routine.

“So he would have to find an L screen somewhere or something like that [and put it in front of the mound],” Chris said.

Those days together in the moving truck bring nothing but great memories for both father and son. On long trips, they’d bunk together and watch the Lakers play on TV and talk about sports. It’s where a bond was developed and life lessons were learned.

“One of the best times was when he was 18 and we took a load out of New York during Christmas vacation,” Mike said. “That was one of the better ones. Great memories of living, eating and enjoying our last days together.”

What did Chris learn from it all?

“Hard work pays off,” he said. “Be dedicated, be on time to what you want to do, chase your dream. Never give up, and if there’s hard times, you persevere and you get through them and continue to work hard.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for M/ since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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