KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Brandon Backe will start the season on the disabled list, general manager Ed Wade confirmed late Sunday morning.

It's no surprise that Backe will not be ready for the regular season, but the club had two options regarding the right-hander: place him on the disabled list, or, if he had healed from his injury and resumed pitching by April 1, release him and only be responsible for a portion of his $1.55 million contract.

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The Astros, with little pitching depth in their system, probably need Backe more than they need the money they'd save by releasing him; therefore, Backe remains an Astro.

For Backe, who has been out of commission since slipping on the mound and straining a side muscle two weeks ago, the news that he'll "only" be placed on the DL provided some comfort, but not much.

"As far as the decision is concerned, it's the route that I can go in order to stay here," Backe said. "But it doesn't diffuse the frustration that I have as far as the whole situation -- all this happened because of a slip on the mound. And that's what's so aggravating about this whole thing."

Backe entered Spring Training as one of six candidates vying for the fifth starter job. It is now down to two -- Jose Capellan and Russ Ortiz, while Backe is left hoping that he'll become part of the equation as the season progresses.

"If I could have written the book out of Spring Training, I would have made the fifth spot, been there for Opening Day and been on our way to start the season," Backe said. "Due to false footing, here I am.

"It's at least comforting to know at least they told me I don't have to rush to try to get better or prove anything. They told me I need to take it easy with it and make sure I'm OK. It's a little comforting to hear that from them."