Grieving the death of his stepbrother over the past month, Angels right-hander Tommy Hanson feels he is finally ready to get back on the hill.
"Obviously, this isn't something that just goes away, but I do feel better," Hanson said. "I think time kind of healed a little bit. So, I'm good. I miss the team. I miss being around all the guys. I feel like I'm ready to get back out there and help the team. We've been winning, so I'm going to get back in there and do my thing."
Hanson will take the mound for Friday's series opener against the Astros in Anaheim, his first start since May 4.
Getting back into a routine, Hanson threw a five-inning, 75-pitch simulated game on Saturday in Arizona, saying afterward that he could have kept throwing.
"I wanted to throw more, but obviously they didn't want me to throw," Hanson said. "I wasn't even sore after that start. I feel like I could've gone 90, 100 [pitches] easy."
Hanson comes up against a hot Astros team that has been playing some of its best baseball of the season. Houston just won three of four games of a home-and-home series with the Rockies, taking both games at Coors Field to improve to 7-7 in its last 14 contests.
One of the reasons the Astros did so well in that series was their ability to work out of jams. The Rockies went just 12-for-47 with runners in scoring position.
"It's really more impressive when you get men in scoring position and you lock into, 'OK, how are we going to get this guy out,' and you make quality pitches you need to make," manager Bo Porter said. "Not that you don't make those pitches with nobody on base, but you're more willing to challenge a guy with nobody on base."
Dallas Keuchel will get the start for the Astros, looking for his second win this season. The left-hander took a loss on Sunday to the A's, allowing six runs (four earned) on nine hits while throwing a career-high 110 pitches.
Astros: Cosart impressing Astros in Triple-A
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Thursday he believes top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart is close to being ready for the Majors. However, Luhnow said there's no need to bring him up quickly considering how well Houston's starters have performed lately.
Cosart, who just turned 23, is 5-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 54 1/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City, with 57 strikeouts and 29 walks.
"Jarred Cosart is a starting pitcher in our organization, and we don't have a spot in our starting rotation," Luhnow said. "Will that change later on this summer? Maybe. Is Jarred ready to be in the big league rotation right now? I don't know the answer to that. I think he's close. There are some things we want him to improve on.
"He is improving and working on it, and the pitching coaches are working with him. He's demonstrated so far this year the ability to succeed at the Triple-A level, which is great. As we've seen numerous times, success in the Minors doesn't always translate to success in the big leagues. There's no real rush, and we want him to be comfortable and make sure he's in the position he has the highest chances of succeeding."
Angels: Hamilton held out with back spasms
For the second time in three days, back spasms kept right fielder Josh Hamilton out of the Angels' starting lineup.
Hamilton missed Tuesday's start against Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu due to pain in the middle-right portion of his back. He took some muscle relaxers that night, saw a chiropractor on Wednesday morning and started that night despite feeling a little tight.
Hamilton came out early to run on the field Thursday, but about 90 minutes before first pitch in the Freeway Series finale, he was scratched with the same issue.
The slugger said Wednesday that he's dealt with back issues in the past, and they've never forced him to miss extended time.
• Astros right-hander Edgar Gonzalez is dealing with shoulder soreness and was unavailable Thursday. Porter said the discomfort stemmed from fatigue.
• Angels reliever Ryan Madson, still recovering from the inflammation he felt after a rehab outing for Class A Inland Empire on May 13, is expected to start throwing again within the next couple of days.