Valverde, Geary close to returning from DL
The thought of having closer Jose Valverde and relief pitcher Geoff Geary returning to the bullpen in the near future was enough to make Astros manager Cecil Cooper smile with anticipation.
Valverde and Geary each threw two innings in a simulated game prior to Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Minute Maid Park, and Cooper said both could be activated from the disabled within the next week.
“I think it all lines up that way,” he said.
Geary is scheduled to one more simulated game Tuesday and could be activated if things go well. Valverde will pitch in a Minor League rehab assignment in back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday for Double-A Corpus Christi and should be activated in time for Friday’s series opener at Arizona.
“He looked real good today,” Cooper said of Valverde. “He had good arm strength and some of his pitches looked really good. He threw some good splits. He even threw some cutters, the ball was really running, and he had great downhill [action] on his fastball. He had no health issues so he has to go and pitch.”
Valverde, who led the National League in saves the previous two seasons, has been on the disabled list since April 27 with a strained right calf, and Geary has been disabled since May 14 with right biceps tendinitis.
Valverde was scheduled to throw one inning Sunday, but he felt so good he asked to throw another one. He threw a total of 40 pitches and had no trouble fielding his position.
“Everything’s working,” he said.
Geary threw between 40 and 45 pitches and said he felt strong. What really made Geary optimistic was that he was able to throw sliders without any pain. He had originally planned to perform a Minor League rehab assignment but decided to stay with the team and do his work.
“I gave up a double down the line to Jason Michaels on a slider in and I broke a bats and a couple on ground balls up the middle for base hits,” he said.” After I was done pitching I was able to talk to those hitters and they’re able to give me a good understanding of what I need to do to improve. I feel like we made a good choice by staying here.”
Geary will throw two more innings Tuesday and anticipates being activated shortly thereafter.
“I was throwing sliders today, which I think in the back of my mind that was a pitch I was most worried about because I was giving up home runs on my sliders,” Geary said. “I threw a slider today and felt good. As long as I keep my arm up at shoulder height, I’ll be fine.”
Wandy Rodriguez doesn’t believe he was tipping pitches. After watching the video of his rough outing Thursday against Colorado with catcher Ivan Rodriguez and pitching coach Dewey Robinson, the left-hander could see anything suspicious in his delivery.
“We saw the video and [Saturday] and I threw a bullpen and they took a video and I don’t see anything different,” he said. “I think my problem is I’m missing my location. That’s my problem right now.”
Wandy said Robinson couldn’t notice anything wrong either, though Ivan Rodriguez told general manger Ed Wade on Friday he thought Wandy was tipping pitches.
“I told Dewey, ‘My problem right now is I’m missing my location,'” Wandy said.
How versatile is Jeff Keppinger? He started three games at different positions in the series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He started at third base Friday, shortstop on Saturday and second base on Sunday. Keppinger said he couldn’t recall starting three different positions in three consecutive games.