HOUSTON -- While there has been speculation the Astros will lose their Triple-A affiliation in Round Rock when the player-development contract between the club and the Ryan-Sanders-owned Express expires at the end of this year, Nolan Ryan said he expects Double-A Corpus Christi to remain an Astros affiliate indefinitely.
Ryan, president of the Texas Rangers, has an ownership stake in the Astros' affiliates in Round Rock and Corpus Christi. The Astros' contract with Corpus Christi is set to expire after the 2012 season, but Ryan said the relationship will remain.
"I don't see anything happening with Corpus," Ryan said. "The Round Rock situation, that's probably a little different because Corpus Christi is Astros country, and I think it's only fair to continue with that relationship. And to predict what's going to happen with Round Rock is premature."
If Ryan shifts the Round Rock affiliate to the Rangers after this year, the Astros would likely take over the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City.
"We haven't gotten any definitive information where that stands," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "Our position hasn't changed. We think it's a great environment for us, and we consider it an Astros market and the Ryan-Sanders people have been great to us and the fans are great. We only have so much control of the situation. The rest of it rests in the hands of Nolan and his partners."
The Rangers' Double-A affiliate is currently in Frisco, which is just north of Dallas.
Astros work to correct Wandy's struggles
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg are burning the midnight oil while trying to diagnose starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who's 1-5 with an 8.90 ERA in his past six starts. Mills hinted some changes could be taking place with Rodriguez, but he didn't give any specifics.
Rodriguez (3-10, 6.09 ERA) became the Major League's first 10-game loser after giving up four hits, four walks and six earned runs in three innings in Friday's 9-3 loss to the Rangers.
"There's always concern," Mills said. "When the guys aren't being able to do what we feel they're capable of doing, there's some concern. What we're going to do with Wandy is continue on his program, continue to talk to him about some things, and Arnie's going to work with him on a few things on his side [session] and we might take a different approach for the next outing."
Rodriguez was named the Astros' Pitcher of the Year in 2009 after leading the team and setting career highs in wins (14), games started (33), innings pitched (205 2/3) and strikeouts (193) while posting a 3.02 ERA.
Another exam awaits Fulchino
HOUSTON -- Relief pitcher Jeff Fulchino will be further examined by team doctors on Sunday and could get a cortisone shot in his right elbow, which has been causing him pain when he throws sliders. He underwent an MRI on Friday that showed no structural damage and has been put on oral inflammatory meds, general manager Ed Wade said.
Fulchino said he had a couple of small bone spurs, a bone bruise and some inflammation in the elbow.
"It's something I've been dealing with for the better part of a month, and it just got to the point where it had to be checked out to make sure there is nothing seriously wrong with it," Fulchino said. "I'm going to try to work through it and see what happens."
Fulchino (0-0, 7.62 ERA in 27 games) threw only a couple of sliders in a scoreless inning of work Friday, and said he will have to have better command of his fastball and rely on his split-finger fastball as his secondary pitch instead of his slider.
Fulchino, claimed off waivers by the Astros on Dec. 8, 2008, went 6-4 with a 3.40 ERA in a career-high 61 games last year and was named the Astros' Rookie of the Year by the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Norris ready to return
HOUSTON -- Right-hander Bud Norris, on the disabled list since May 24 with bursitis and biceps tendinitis, could be activated soon. Norris threw in the bullpen prior to Saturday's game and could be slotted back into the rotation in place of Brian Moehler the next time through the rotation.
"They have the off-day [Monday], so they don't have to make any moves, so whenever I'm out there I'll be ready to go," said Norris, who threw 50-60 pitches in the bullpen Saturday. "I'm happy the way I felt, so that's a plus."
Norris (2-5, 6.80 ERA) allowed eight hits, five runs and three walks in 4 2/3 innings in his second rehab outing on Thursday for Triple-A Round Rock, throwing 86 pitches (49 strikes). He threw four scoreless innings in his first rehab start last Saturday in New Orleans.
"Bud broke [Spring Training camp] as one of our starters, and since he's been starting, we're trying to build those innings up and get some confidence in him and how he's throwing the ball and so forth," manager Brad Mills said.
Meanwhile, right-handed reliever Chris Sampson will have a third rehab appearance on Sunday for Triple-A Round Rock. Sampson, on the DL since June 1 with rotator cuff tendinitis, struck out two batters in one scoreless inning (20 pitches) in Friday's rehab outing.
"All reports were good and much better than they were for the first outing," Mills said.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.