HOUSTON -- When Astros relief pitcher Geoff Geary arrived at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday afternoon, he was informed by team management he was being activated from the disabled list. But instead of heading to the bullpen, Geary was outrighted to Triple-A Round Rock. Astros general manager Ed Wade said Geary has three days to accept the assignment or become a free agent.

Geary, acquired from Philadelphia in the trade for Brad Lidge following the 2007 season, was one of the key members of the Astros' bullpen last year, but he had struggled to stay healthy this season. And when he was healthy, he was ineffective.

He didn't return a phone message seeking comment.

Geary went 1-3 with an 8.10 ERA in 16 appearances before going on the disabled list May 14 with tendinitis in his right biceps. He was originally scheduled to go on a Minor League rehab last week, but he opted to continue his rehab with the team.

Wade, who had Geary while both were with the Philadelphia Phillies, was hopeful Geary would accept the assignment.

"The guy pitched in 55 games for us last year and he was effective, particularly in that sixth-inning role," Wade said. "We'd love to have him back to where he was a year ago, but in the meantime [Alberto] Arias and [Jeff] Fulchino have pitched well for us."

While Geary was on the DL, fellow right-handers Arias and Fulchino pitched well in relief. Arias has a 3.38 ERA in 13 appearances, and Fulchino is 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA in 16 appearances.

Geary, 32, was 2-3 with a career-best 2.53 ERA in his first season in Houston in 2008 and held right-handers to a .182 average. He was optimistic about returning to the bullpen following a simulated game he threw Tuesday.

"I feel I'm throwing the ball more effectively than I have before," Geary said after he threw two 20-pitch innings against teammates. "It's out of my hands from here, but I'm ready without a doubt. All I can do is wait until they make a decision."