HOUSTON -- The Astros are on the verge of getting some veteran help for their bullpen. Right-hander Anthony Bass, who's been on the disabled list since May 11 with a right intercostal strain, is set to throw once more in a rehab outing at Class A Quad Cities before being activated.
Bass threw one scoreless and hitless inning on both Tuesday and Thursday without any issues, and general manager Jeff Luhnow said the plan is for him to throw two innings Sunday, following which he could be activated and join the Major League roster.
"At that point, we'll make a decision on whether we want to see more or rather he's ready to come up," Luhnow said. "He's always been a guy who's able to go more than an inning for us, and we've got a lot of one-inning guys right now. We're going to need to need him to go more than an inning, so that two-inning stint is important for us."
Meanwhile, fellow injured veteran relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Albers don't appear to be close to returning. The Astros aren't saying much about the injuries to Albers, who's been out since April 22 with shoulder tendinitis, or Crain, who hasn't pitched in nearly a year -- June 29, 2013 -- because of biceps tendinitis that eventually required surgery.
"Albers is throwing off the mound and feeling better," Luhnow said. "He's further behind [Bass]."
Luhnow said Crain, who has been playing toss, is still working his way back to the point he can face batters.
"He's working as hard as anybody on getting back," Luhnow said. "It's just a matter of one final hurdle in terms of strengthening the particular part of the shoulder, and once we get that back we should be good to go. We don't have an estimate on how long that's going to be, but our medical team and Jesse Crain are working as hard as possible."
Keuchel scratched from start with wrist inflammation
HOUSTON -- Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel was scratched from his scheduled start Saturday against the Tigers with left wrist inflammation. Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer will be called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City to start in his place.
The team will announce a corresponding roster move prior to Saturday's game.
Keuchel, who's tied with Jarred Cosart for the team lead with eight wins, began experiencing the problem after throwing in the bullpen a few days ago. The Astros opted to be careful with the lefty, who's 8-5 with a 2.78 ERA and has been their top starter.
"He's been getting treatment the last few days," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "After thinking about it and talking about it, we felt like we'd rather be safe than sorry. He's been too valuable to us and is having such a great season, we don't want to risk him going out there anything less than 100 percent."
Oberholtzer had made nine starts for the Astros this year, going 2-6 with a 4.76 ERA, including 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts at the end of May before being sent down. He's 1-2 with a 4.65 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Altuve's league-leading numbers pad All-Star case
HOUSTON -- Astros second baseman Jose Altuve entered Friday leading the American League in hits (107), stolen bases (30) and batting average (.334), which should put him in good shape to be selected to the American League All-Star Game.
If Altuve leads the AL in all three categories at the All-Star break, he would be only the second player since 1957 to do that, joining Ichiro Suzuki (2003).
"Jose Altuve is an All-Star second baseman," manager Bo Porter said. "He's put up some good numbers to this point. He is the catalyst to our offense. He's on base and stealing bases and getting everyone that comes behind him better pitches to hit, so positive things happen."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Astros to take cautious approach to Correa's recovery
HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said he spent about 45 minutes visiting with injured prospect Carlos Correa and his parents, brother and sister in the hospital on Thursday. Correa underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a broken fibula sustained while sliding into a base Saturday at Class A Lancaster.
Correa was hitting .325 with six homers and 57 RBIs in 62 games for Lancaster, with an on-base percentage of .416 and an OPS of .926, putting him line to be promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi later this year. Now, he's going to miss the regular season, but Luhnow said he was in good spirits.
"The plan is for him to stay here in Houston and the doctor wants to see him in two weeks," Luhnow said.
Correa won't be able to put any weight on the leg for four weeks and will be in a boot afterwards. It's unclear when he'll be able to return to baseball activities, but the team is hopeful he can be available in October to play in the Arizona Fall League or winter ball in November.
Luhnow said he'll spend the summer rehabbing in Kissimmee, Fla., though he will get to make a few visits home to Puerto Rico in that span.
"We're going to take it slow," he said. "This is a young player with a tremendous amount of talent. We don't want to rush him to get back. I've been impressed with his attitude. He just continues to demonstrate maturity well beyond his years. How he's handling it, how his parents are handling it, the indication is that this player is going to be a good Major Leaguer for a long time."
Meanwhile, Luhnow said Double-A shortstop Nolan Fontana recently underwent surgery for a broken pinkie, but Luhnow said he hopes Fontana will return at some point this year. Drafted in the second round in 2012, Fontana was hitting .262 with a .418 on-base percentage at Corpus Christi.
"He was another player that was having a good year and has major upside," Luhnow said. "His rehab will be a little less extensive."
Former Astro Martinez in town as Tigers visit Houston
HOUSTON -- The Astros will get their first look this weekend at surging Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez, who was drafted and developed by the team before being let go this spring. He signed with the Tigers and has been terrific, entering Friday hitting .310 with nine homers and 32 RBIs.
Martinez, 26, hit .251 with 24 homers and 126 RBIs in 252 games in 2 1/2 years with the Astros, who took him in the 20th round of the 2009 Draft. He came to camp this year competing for a roster spot, but was released near the end spring camp.
"I'm happy for J.D.," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "J.D.'s a Major League Baseball player. Sometimes a change of scenery for a guy is good, and I think he's taken full advantage of the opportunity they've given him and I'm really happy for him.
"In our situation, you look at our roster moving out of Spring Training, there was no place for J.D. to fit on our roster. Once we realized that, we were going to be able to give him an opportunity to play someplace else and he latched on with Detroit and things have gone well."
Astros catcher Jason Castro saw firsthand the adjustments Martinez was making during the spring and isn't surprised it's finally clicked.
"When you get to know someone over the course of a few years and you play with them, you're always rooting for those guys to do well," Castro said. "Maybe not for the next couple of days when he's in town to play us, but it's nice to see a guy have success you know personally and have played with for a few years."
Astros' Hildreth up for Texas Radio Hall of Fame
HOUSTON -- Astros senior vice president of broadcasting and alumni relations Jamie Hildreth has been nominated for induction into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
The inductees for the 2014 class will be announced on July 4. The voting, which is done by members of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, ends on Monday. The annual induction celebration will be held Nov. 1 at the Hotel Galvez in Galveston, Texas.
A 40-plus year veteran of Houston radio, Hildreth has been with the Astros organization for 28 seasons. For most of his tenure with the Astros, he has played a significant role behind the scenes of the radio and television broadcasts.
Hildreth's radio career in Houston began as an account executive in 1970 at KXYZ (1320 AM). He them moved to KRBE (104.1 FM), where he first served as sales manager before adding on-air work to his duties. He later served as sales manager at KTRH (740 AM) radio in Houston and was also general manager for KTRM/KALO radio in Beaumont, Texas. In his current role with the Astros, Hildreth provides leadership on the club's affiliate relations efforts, with emphasis on outreach and expansion of the network's scope while overseeing both the radio and television broadcasts.
"We're very proud that Jamie has been recognized in this way," Astros president Reid Ryan said. "He has been a very big part of the Astros organization for many years, during which he has built an outstanding reputation both in the radio and television industry and throughout Major League Baseball. He is deserving of induction into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, and we wish him the best of luck in the voting process."
To be eligible for nomination for the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, individuals must have worked within the borders of Texas during their career as an on-air personality, talk show host, newscaster, programmer, station manager, owner, engineer, sportscaster, support staff or in production. The Texas Radio Hall of Fame is an organization dedicated to honoring the greats in broadcasting from the Lone Star State.
Astros longtime radio broadcasters Milo Hamilton and Gene Elston are members of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
Prospect Santana collects four hits at Triple-A
Outfielder Domingo Santana, the Astros' No. 7 prospect, punctuated his four-hit Friday night with a three-run walk-off home run, powering Triple-A Oklahoma City to an 8-5 victory against Omaha.
After Omaha scored once in the top of the ninth to tie the game at five, Austin Wates led off the bottom of the inning with a single. A sacrifice bunt moved Wates to second base and the Storm Chasers chose to intentionally walk Marc Krauss to get to Santana. The right-hander took a first-pitch strike before driving the game-winning homer out to right field.
Santana, ranked No. 93 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, finished the night 4-for-5 with three runs and three RBIs. It was his second four-hit game of the season.
Outfielder Preston Tucker, the Astros' No. 20 prospect, went 1-for-4 with an RBI and stole his first base since being promoted to Oklahoma City two weeks ago.
At just 21 years old, Santana is the second-youngest regular in the Pacific Coast League this season. But he has held his own against the older competition. In 81 games this season, he is hitting .303/.382/.505 with 13 home runs.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.