Notes: Sampson targets return to action
There and back again for Gutierrez; deadline for draftees looms
HOUSTON -- Chris Sampson's elbow issues date all the way back to June 22, when he threw a light bullpen session in Arlington, prior to the opener with the Texas Rangers.
Sampson remembers "tweaking it" at that time, but after a series of treatments and anti-inflammatory medications, the right-hander made his start two nights later, allowing three runs over seven innings.
Sampson made five starts after that outing in Arlington, with limited success. He allowed four or more runs in four starts and lasted only four innings in his most recent outing last week in Atlanta.
Although some insiders wonder if Sampson will pitch again this year, the right-hander is confident he'll only miss a couple of weeks. He went on the disabled list with an elbow sprain on Friday, retroactive to Aug. 1.
"I'm on some pretty good medication to help with the pain," he said. "Once I finish with the medicine, I'll play some catch. Right now, I'm just doing same treatment I've been doing. Hopefully the inflammation will get out of there and quit stressing the ligament out. Once it gets out of there, it should start feeling a lot better."
Sampson has peace of mind knowing that he has no tears in his elbow, which would require him to have surgery. Team medical director Dr. David Lintner assured the right-hander that he caught the injury in time, which should help the healing process.
"He said if I tried to pitch through it, I would be at a higher risk to have surgery," Sampson said. "He said had I continued to pitch, I may have gone that route. It's better to side out and rest. I'm a quick healer."
"As long as you don't have a tear in that ligament, you have a chance to come back," general manager Tim Purpura said.
On notice: A smiling Juan Gutierrez, dressed in his street clothes, sat at an empty locker on Monday, unsure of whether he would be suiting up in uniform or heading back to Round Rock to join his Triple-A Express team.
The Astros flew Gutierrez to Houston on Monday, just in case left-hander Stephen Randolph was headed to the disabled list. Randolph left his outing on Sunday with arm soreness.
But after he threw lightly in the outfield during batting practice, Randolph assured his manager that a trip to the DL was unnecessary, and Gutierrez headed back to Round Rock.
"All he got was a free round trip to Austin," Purpura said of Gutierrez. "But I'd rather be safe than short."
Draft picks: With the Aug. 15 deadline to sign Draft picks quickly approaching, the Astros are optimistic that they'll come to terms with their top two picks, infielder Derek Dietrich and right-hander Brett Eibner, in the very near future.
But it looks as though their 13th rounder, Chad Jones, is headed for LSU, where he signed to play football.
"I don't think there's a whole lot of hope there," Purpura said.
The holdup with their first pick, third-rounder Dietrich, was due mostly to injury. Dietrich fell up the stairs at a friend's house a few weeks ago and dislocated his left (non-throwing) shoulder. The injury required surgery.
"It was a freak accident," Purpura said, likening the dislocated shoulder to Chris Burke's injury in 2006, which he had surgically repaired soon after the conclusion of that season.
After the Astros learned of Dietrich's injury, they stalled negotiations until they were sure the infielder was going to recover.
"Once we heard that, we weren't going to sign him until we got a clean bill of health on him," Purpura said. "We're just in that process now, with our doctor speaking to the doctor who did the surgery. That just happened [Monday]."
Video star: Dedicated country music fans may have noticed that Roy Oswalt has a cameo appearance in the Tracy Lawrence video titled "Find Out Who Your Friends Are."
Oswalt appears for approximately 15 seconds in the nearly four-minute video, as a weight-lifter who's struggling after his spotter is distracted by a call on his cell phone.
The video was filmed earlier this year in Enterprise, Ala.
"It was pretty neat," Oswalt said.
Oswalt has a friend who knows Lawrence and heard the country singer was looking for athletes to be in the video. Along with Oswalt, Cornelius Griffin and Demetric Evans of the Washington Redskins also appear, as do country singers George Jones and Darryl Worley.
Pitching rotation: To keep Wandy Rodriguez on his five-day schedule, Matt Albers will be skipped the next time through the rotation. Albers' next start was slated for Friday, but with the off-day Thursday, Rodriguez can start the opener with the Brewers on regular rest. Woody Williams will pitch Saturday's game.
Coming up: The Astros and Cubs will continue their three-game series on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park, beginning at 7:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Williams (5-12, 5.37) will face Cubs lefty Sean Marshall (5-5, 3.86).
Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.