Astros slowly getting healthy

The news was very good for the Astros in the health department on Friday. Wandy Rodriguez, Roy Oswalt and LaTroy Hawkins each threw successful bullpen sessions and are close to returning.

Rodriguez, who left his last start Saturday in St. Louis with a hamstring strain, will start Sunday’s series finale against the Brewers. Oswalt, who hasn’t pitched since straining his lower back July 28, will return to the rotation Tuesday against Florida, assuming all goes well with his scheduled bullpen Sunday.

And then there’s Hawkins, who appears like he’ll be able to come off the disabled list when scheduled on Wednesday. Good thing, too, because Doug Brocail went on the DL for the third time this season Friday, this time with a shoulder strain. Could we have seen the last of Brocail? I hope not, but considering his age (42) and medical history (15 DL trips) he could be done.

That brings us to Lance Berkman. Big Puma is still nursing a sore left calf, but said Friday he feels he could play. The Astros, however, are taking a more cautious approach, but based on his comments Friday, it appears Berkman could return by Monday.

If Rodriguez, Oswalt and Berkman return, stay healthy and perform like they did before they got injured, the Astros still have a chance. They’re five games out with 53 to play, so there is no time to waste for the local nine.

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