HOUSTON -- Astros owner Drayton McLane said on Tuesday that he expects the pending sale of the club to a group led by Houston businessman Jim Crane to be approved by Major League Baseball, perhaps by the middle of next week.
"I definitely think it can get done by then," he said.
McLane announced in May that he had reached a deal to sell the team to Crane's group. The vote to approve the sale was on the agenda at the owners' meetings earlier this month, but Major League Baseball released a statement two weeks ago saying that it had postponed the vote and needed more time to complete its homework on the $680 million transaction.
Astros officials say that they haven't been informed that Crane's bid is in trouble. And McLane maintained on Tuesday that Major League Baseball's dealings with the Dodgers -- who are in bankruptcy -- and last week's hurricane that affected the East Coast have pushed the vote on the Astros sale further to the back burner.
"It's just gotten more complicated at the Commissioner's Office," he said. "Hopefully they're going to get back on it this week."
McLane said that the complaints filed against one of Crane's companies by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1997 aren't an issue, and he didn't hesitate when asked if there was any reason to believe that the deal wouldn't be approved by the other owners.
"I think it will sail right through," he said.
Harrell to start Friday in place of Myers
HOUSTON -- Right-hander Lucas Harrell, acquired by the Astros on waivers from the White Sox in July, will be called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City to start for Houston on Friday night against the Cubs in place of Brett Myers, whose wife is expecting to give birth on Thursday or Friday.
Myers allowed a run on two hits out of the bullpen on Tuesday against the Pirates before heading home to Jacksonville, Fla., for the birth of his fourth child, a boy. He has one daughter and two sons, the youngest of whom will be a year old on Sept. 10.
"This game always comes second when there's family involved," Myers said. "That's the way I've always seen it. This game is a lot about family. You have your family here and family at home, but the family at home is more important than anything. And you have to be there for them."
Harrell, 26, made nine starts for Oklahoma City and was 5-2 with a 1.72 ERA, and he'll remain on the Major League roster for the rest of the season. Harrell pitched in three games for the White Sox earlier this year and eight games last year, including three starts. He's 1-0 with a 5.28 ERA in 11 career games.
"Lucas has done a good job for us down there, and his last several starts have been outstanding," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "And the reports have been very solid. He was going to come up in September anyway, but he'll come up and get a start here. Hopefully he takes advantage of it and gives our staff a chance to see what it's all about."
Wade said that any additional players who the Astros call up will arrive in time for Friday's game, instead of waiting until the end of the Triple-A or Double-A seasons early next week.
"Barring something unforeseen, all of our moves will be made on Friday," he said.
Eight prospects to represent Astros in AFL
HOUSTON -- Right-handed pitchers Jason Stoffel and Josh Zeid, who were acquired by the Astros in trades last month, will be among eight Minor League prospects who will represent the team during this year's Arizona Fall League. Astros players are assigned to the Salt River Rafters, who play at the Spring Training facility shared by the Rockies and Diamondbacks in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Stoffel (Double-A Corpus Christi) was acquired from the Giants in the Jeff Keppinger deal, and Zeid (Corpus Christi) was traded to the Astros from the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade.
The other Astros prospects who are participating are left-hander Dallas Keuchel (Triple-A Oklahoma City), right-hander Chris Hicks (Corpus Christi), Infielder Kody Hinze (Corpus Christi), outfielder Jay Austin (Class A Lancaster) and outfielder Jake Goebbert (Oklahoma City). Austin is on the taxi squad, which means that he can be activated on only Wednesdays and Sundays.
The Astros are holding a roster spot open for catcher Jason Castro, who's recovering from season-ending knee surgery. He's eligible to play because he has less than two years of Major League service time as of Aug. 31.
"We're big believers in the Fall League and winter ball," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "I think it's an indication that we think highly of all of those players. And it's a clear distinction they're not that far away, in our opinion, from helping us at the big league level."
The Arizona Fall League season runs from Oct. 4-Nov. 19.
Brown, Dierker up for Ford C. Frick Award
HOUSTON -- Broadcaster Bill Brown and former manager, player and broadcaster Larry Dierker are the Astros' representatives on the fan ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's 2012 Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in baseball broadcasting.
Fans can cast votes at the Hall of Fame's Facebook page -- http://www.facebook.com/baseballhall -- to determine three of the 10 names on the final ballot for the Frick Award. Voting runs from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30, and fans can cast votes once per day through September for their favorite broadcaster.
"It's a nice honor, but there are a lot of deserving candidates," Brown said.
The Hall of Fame has pared the list of fan-eligible candidates to 75 -- two representing every current big league team and 15 at-large selections -- based on popularity, longevity and past voting results in the online fan balloting. Eligible candidates must have a minimum of 10 years of continuous Major League broadcast service with a ballclub, network, or a combination of the two.
Results of the fan voting will be announced on Oct. 5. The final 2012 Frick Award ballot will be comprised of the three fan selections -- along with seven other candidates -- determined by a Hall of Fame staff research team.
This fall, a 20-member electorate will vote on the final 10-name ballot to determine the 2012 Frick Award winner. The winner will be named on Dec. 6 and honored in Cooperstown during the 2012 Hall of Fame Weekend, held from July 20-23.
Clarence Johns, who had served as the Astros' East Coast scouting supervisor since 2007, has been hired by the Texas Rangers. The Astros have yet to name his replacement.
Catcher Jason Castro, who underwent season-ending knee surgery in March and recently joined the team to work out, ramped up his baseball drills and began throwing to second base on Tuesday. He'll report to Florida next week for the instructional league and is tentatively scheduled to play in the Arizona Fall League.