HOUSTON -- The Astros will conclude their first round of general manager interviews on Thursday when they meet with two candidates -- assistant GM Ricky Bennett and Dan Evans, a former Dodgers GM who is currently serving as a special asssistant to the GM for the Seattle Mariners.

Evans confirmed prior to Wednesday's game that he would be interviewing with interim GM Tal Smith and club owner Drayton McLane.

"I'm looking forward to talking to them and sharing our basic philosophies," Evans said.

Bennett, who is in his third year with the Houston organization, said he is "excited" about sitting down formally with Smith and McLane in what will be his first interview for a vacant GM post.

"I'll get a chance to share my thoughts and ideas and I think it'll be a good experience for me," Bennett said. "With me being here for the last couple years, I see things that other candidates don't see because they're outside the organization. From that perspective, I think it'll be good for me to sit down and express some thoughts and ideas."

Once Thursday's interviews are complete, the Astros will have met with 11 candidates. It's likely Smith and his staff will meet at the end of the day to discuss the next course of action. McLane is expected to be out of town Monday and Tuesday of next week, so a second round of interviews likely would not begin before Wednesday.

Additionally, the Astros have not officially decided that the pool of candidates will be cut off at 11.

"We'll discuss that (Thursday)," Smith said. "It's also a possibility that someone will throw another name in the mix that we think is worthwhile to interview. Most of this is done behind the scenes, short of the interview process. The interview process is simply to give you a feel for a personality and so on. The hard work is done from the standpoint of due diligence -- the track record and the body of work."

Patton slowed: Troy Patton admitted Wednesday he was initially worried when he felt soreness in his left shoulder a few days ago, but after meeting with team medical director Dr. David Lintner on Tuesday, he relaxed a bit.

"I thought it was the shoulder, but Dr. Lintner said it was my bicep tendon," Patton said. "I just know that when I try to throw with my natural arm motion, it's been hurting for a couple days."

Lintner assured Patton there was nothing structurally wrong with his arm.

"He thinks it's just normal wear and tear from eating up innings," Patton said.

The 22-year-old lefty threw 151 1/3 innings in the Minor Leagues this year, 50 more than he had at any point in his professional career. Add to that the 12 2/3 innings he's logged during his brief time in the big leagues and it's not terribly surprising his shoulder is somewhat fatigued.

"I threw almost as many as last year and I started getting worn down last year, too," Patton said. "It could have been quick rest and the relief appearance. It could have agitated it. I don't know exactly what did it. I haven't felt right for three or four days."

The Astros haven't decided if they will shut down Patton for the remainder of the season, but they're surely not going to push him through the final weeks of a non-contending season.

"I don't know that he'll be completely shut down," manager Cecil Cooper said Wednesday. "We'll re-evaluate it as we go. Today, he's going to get out and just toss and see how it feels and go from there."

Who's your daddy? Soon after catcher J.R. Towles was called up, Cooper pointed in the direction of the Astros' front-line catcher and said, "Brad Ausmus is your father. Stay close to him."

The hope is that Towles will absorb as much knowledge as Ausmus is willing to share in these final weeks of the season.

"He needs to do those things," Cooper said, adding that Towles will likely start Saturday's game against the Pirates. "Brad has a lot of knowledge and he needs to steal some of that from him."

Cooper also intends for the four catchers currently with the team -- Ausmus, Towles, Humberto Quintero and Eric Munson -- to meet once or twice per homestand for about 20 minutes to talk shop. On Tuesday, they had a roundtable discussion of sorts with director of pitching development Dewey Robinson and first-base coach Mark Bailey.

"I told them I wanted to see that," Cooper said. "If we're home for seven days, do it a couple times. We need to start doing that."

Woof: Reliever Dave Borkowski is scheduled to sign autographs at Best Friends Pet Care at 26839 Interstate 45 S. in Spring from 10 a.m. until noon CT on Saturday.

Borkowski and his wife, Jill, have partnered with Best Friends Pet Care to raise awareness and money for specially designed pet oxygen masks that will be donated to the Houston Fire Department. Borkowski will sign autographs in return for a donation. All donations will go towards the pet oxygen mask campaign.

Odds and ends: The Astros-Cardinals game on Sunday, Sept. 23 has been picked up by the ESPN network as the Sunday Night Baseball national broadcast and will begin at 7:05 PM CT. The original start time was 1:15 p.m. CT. ... Craig Biggio, who has more doubles than any right-handed hitter in baseball history, collected his 666th career double on Tuesday to move into sole possession for fifth place on the all-time list. He's not likely to reach the next target, Ty Cobb's 724, but he has a chance to finish his career in the top 20 all-time in the hits category. He's in 22nd place with 3,049 hits but is only four away from Rod Carew (3,053) and six behind No. 20 Rickey Henderson (3,055).

On deck: Woody Williams will face Cubs right-hander Steve Trachsel on Thursday in the series finale at Minute Maid Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.