PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- First, the good news. The strained muscle in Wandy Rodriguez's left side has fully healed, to the point that he no longer feels any pain.

"I don't feel anything," Rodriguez said. "I feel great. I feel perfect."

spring training
cactus league
grapefruit league

And now for the rest. Despite that pain-free pitching in his second Grapefruit League start since the injury, Rodriguez was roughed up for five runs in two innings against the Mets on Thursday. They weren't all his fault -- two errors in the second led to four unearned runs -- but Rodriguez's command issues certainly did not help.

"In my second inning, I tried to throw the ball outside," Rodriguez said. "But I missed a lot, and I threw a couple of pitches right down the middle. I think that was my problem today."

That second inning was the damaging one, even though Rodriguez allowed just three hits. Two walks hurt, as did Rodriguez's own throwing error, which allowed a run to score. Another run came on a wild pitch, and yet another on Miguel Tejada's throwing error with two outs.

Still, Rodriguez blamed not his defense, but instead the command of his pitches. That, along with the shaky play behind him, forced Rodriguez to throw 35 pitches in the second inning. Originally slated to pitch three to four innings in his third Grapefruit League start, Rodriguez instead lasted just two, using up his allotted 59 pitches.

"I need to throw more inside," Rodriguez said. "I threw a lot outside today, so I need to work on pitching inside."

"Wandy just didn't have any kind of feel," Astros manager Cecil Cooper said.

Still, it's hardly a worry for Rodriguez, despite the fact that only 2 1/2 weeks remain in Spring Training. Due to his injury, Rodriguez has only progressed to the point that most starters have by the first week of March. And that's fine. With three spring starts likely remaining before his first regular-season assignment, Rodriguez should still have time to round into form.

Astros extras: Catcher J.R. Towles cut a finger on his left hand when he hit a fan in his Florida home. Towles was attempting to remove his shirt and hit the ceiling fan, striking the tip of his finger and nail. He was held out of the team's trip to Port St. Lucie, and is day-to-day. The Astros replaced Towles on the travel roster with 19-year-old Minor League catcher Rene Garcia, their 35th-round pick in last June's First-Year Player Draft. ... Right-hander Alberto Arias threw a pain-free bullpen session on Thursday, his first since bruising his right hand after being struck by a line drive last week. ... The Astros still have not finalized a deal with free-agent catcher Ivan Rodriguez, though Cooper said that Rodriguez would be asked to play immediately upon passing his physical.