Backe to the bullpen, Paulino improving
The Astros released their probable pitchers for next week’s Interleague Series against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park, and it appears right-hander Brandon Backe is getting moved back to the bullpen after making one start. Backe gave up four hits and three runs in four innings Thursday in Arlington and left the game with a finger blister.
Russ Ortiz will open the series Tuesday, and Roy Oswalt will pitch Wednesday on four days of rest. The Astros could have used Monday’s off day to give Oswalt another day coming off a 126-pitch performance Friday in Minnesota, but chose to keep him on four days of rest. Brian Moehler, who pitched Saturday against the Twins, is scheduled to throw Thursday’s finale.
Considering Wandy Rodriguez would be scheduled to pitch Friday against Detroit (the Astros haven’t released their probable starters for that series), Backe is the odd man out.
Right-hander Felipe Paulino, on the disabled list with a strained groin, threw about 60 pitches in the bullpen prior to Saturday’s game in Minnesota and said he felt fine. He will throw live batting practice next week in Houston, after which the Astros will make a decision about his future.