Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. and his wife Kara welcomed a new arrival just before the new year. Kara gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter named Ava Marie.
"2019 brought me my biggest blessing of all," Kara McCullers wrote on Instagram. "Welcome to the world Ava Rae McCullers." The pitcher expressed his excitement in a separate Instagram post.
McCullers, who recently agreed to a $4.1 million contract for the 2020 season, will be a major part of the Astros' plans to return to the World Series. After spending all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, he'll need to perform at a high level to replace the production of pitchers Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley, both of whom left in free agency.
Beyond his ability on the field, including a selection to the All-Star team in 2017, McCullers is known for being community minded. The Lance McCullers Jr Foundation raises money for pet adoptions; he also earned praise for giving Astros fans tickets to last year's World Series games.
"Hopefully, one day when I’m long gone and no longer an Astro, people will remember that I tried to impact the city and that I cared about the people in this city," he told CultureMap in October.