NEW YORK -- The Astros signed veteran right-hander Brad Thompson to a Minor League deal earlier this month, general manager Ed Wade said Sunday. Thompson is a veteran of six Major League seasons, mostly notably with the Cardinals from 2005-09.

Thompson began this year with the Royals, and he was 0-4 with a 6.41 ERA in 16 games before being designated for assignment earlier this month. He refused his Minor League assignment, and Astros assistant general manager Ricky Bennett signed him to add depth and stability to the staff.

Thompson is 21-21 with a 4.46 ERA in 201 career games, mostly as a reliever. His best season came in 2007, when he was 8-6 with a 4.73 ERA in 44 games for the Cardinals, including 17 starts. He appeared in eight playoff games for the Cardinals in 2005-06, including one World Series game in '06.

Thompson, 28, was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts for the Express, allowing one walk and 16 hits in 11 2/3 innings pitched.

Berkman out of starting lineup for finale

NEW YORK -- Lance Berkman, who went 0-for-4 on Saturday to extend his slump to 0-for-14, wasn't in the starting lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Yankees. Manager Brad Mills said he could sense Berkman might need a day off.

"I kind of sense a little frustration from him yesterday, and it's never a good thing to let that build," Mills said. "We talked a little bit after the game yesterday and it was very short. I talked to him, and we thought it would be a good idea to give him the day off."

Berkman was 1-for-23 in the first six games of the Astros' three-city road trip to Denver, New York and Kansas City after going 12-for-30 in his previous seven games. He was hitting .197 on the road this season entering Sunday.

Mills said he wouldn't hesitate to use Berkman as a pinch-hitter, but by giving him Sunday off and with Monday being a scheduled off-day, the break could do him some good. Geoff Blum started at first base in place of Berkman.

"It really helps some guys if they've got some aches and pains or they just need a day," he said.

Norris tosses scoreless rehab start

NEW YORK -- Right-hander Bud Norris, on the disabled list since May 24 with bursitis and biceps tendinitis, threw four scoreless innings Saturday in a Minor League rehab start at Triple-A Round Rock and gave up two hits, two walks and struck out five.

Norris threw 66 pitches, including 45 strikes. He threw a first-pitch strike to 12 of the 16 batters he faced and sent down all seven batters he started with an 0-2 count. Major League scout Paul Ricciarini was at the game and sent general manager Ed Wade an e-mail update.

"His report was glowing," Wade said. "He had a good fastball, a swing-and-miss fastball, and a real good slider with good mound presence. His last line [of the e-mail] was that he was not too far from helping us back in the Major League rotation."

Norris will start against Friday for Round Rock.

Also, right-handed reliever Chris Sampson was scheduled to throw one inning or 15-20 pitches in a simulated game Sunday at Double-A Corpus Christi. If goes well, he will make his first rehab appearances on Tuesday at Corpus Christi. He's been on the DL since June 1 with rotator cuff tendinitis.

Lindstrom 'ready' if Astros need him Sunday

NEW YORK -- Closer Matt Lindstrom, who hadn't pitched in four consecutive games prior to Sunday, was available to pitch Sunday. Manager Brad Mills said Friday that Lindstrom had been dealing with back spasms for a few days.

"He's fine," Mills said. "He came to me before the game yesterday and said he was OK to go. I'm anticipating him being absolutely fine today."

Lindstrom tossed a scoreless inning Tuesday for his 14th save of the season, which puts him sixth in the National League. He has not allowed a run in 21 of his 26 games this year and is 14-of-17 in save opportunities.

"I had a little bit of an issue, but it's going away," Lindstrom said. "I'll be ready."

Worth noting

The Astros signed two more Draft picks Sunday, reaching deals with fifth-round pick Ben Heath, a catcher from Penn State, and 49th round pick Kenny Diaz, a catcher from Colegio Angel David High School in Puerto Rico. ... The Astros have signed 21 of 52 Draft picks.