CHICAGO -- Astros first-base coach Bobby Meacham, who came up with the New York Yankees when Lou Piniella was in the twilight of his playing career, said Tuesday he was glad his former teammate and manager was going out on his own terms.

Piniella announced Tuesday he would retire at the end of the season as manager of the Cubs.

"Once in a while in the winter, I'll see him in a Yankee fantasy camp or something to do with that, but it's good to say hi to him and know he's doing well and check on his family," Meacham said. "We have a connection from years ago and it's good to see him having a great career. I'm sure he's pleased with the way it's gone, and like all of us will some day, it's time to do something else."

Meacham, who played with the Yankees from 1983-88, was with the Bronx Bombers when Piniella was the manager, hitting coach and general manager.

"Lou was real intense as a player as he is as a manager," Meacham said. "Lou's a good guy. He used to get riled up out there. He's got the reputation for that, but the last couple of years he's calmed down and things have been even-keeled for him. His record shows what a good manager he is."

Paulino to miss four additional weeks

CHICAGO -- Astros right-hander Felipe Paulino will be out approximately four additional weeks after a team doctor diagnosed him Tuesday with a mild rotator cuff strain.

Paulino, who has been on the disabled list since June 21 with right rotator cuff tendinitis, has been hampered by injuries throughout his brief career. He was 1-8 in 14 starts this year, but had a respectable 4.40 ERA and was pitching better as the season progressed.

Paulino was examined in Houston by team medical director Dr. David Lintner after undergoing an MRI on Sunday.

"It's not good news, but it's not catastrophic," Astros general manager Ed Wade said. "It's a shame because he's thrown so well, and it looked like he had turned a lot of corners this year. He's facing another setback, and he's going to be have to apply himself the same way he did in the offseason and come back as strong as he can."

Paulino, 26, debuted for the Astros at the end of the 2007 season but missed the entire 2008 season while recovering from a pinched nerve in his right arm. He split time last year between Triple-A Round Rock and the Astros and was 3-11 with 6.27 ERA in 23 games (17 starts) in Houston, spending 15 days on the DL in June with a groin strain.

Veteran right-hander Brian Moehler, who's been on the DL since July 8 with a right groin strain, is nearing a return and could take Paulino's spot in the rotation. Left-hander Wesley Wright made his first Major League start Tuesday against the Cubs and could put himself in the mix.

"I'd love to see Wes throw well and give us some alternatives," Wade said. "Brian has done a real good job for us. He's been steady and reliable for us all the way through. Once he's back at 100 percent, he certainly figures back in our situation."

Free agency could be reality for Berkman

CHICAGO -- Considering the struggles he's had at the plate this season, Astros slugger Lance Berkman said Tuesday it wouldn't surprise him if the club decided not to pick up his option for 2011 and allowed him to become a free agent.

Berkman, who entered Tuesday hitting .250 with 12 homers and 43 RBIs, stands to make $15 million next season if the Astros pick up the option. If they decide not to pick it up, they'll pay him a $2 million buyout.

"I don't get any indication they are going to pick it up," Berkman said. "I think the chances are that I probably will be a free agent at the end of the year. It's not concerning, but it's certainly a position I've never been in before in my career."

Astros general manager Ed Wade said he has informed Berkman's agent, Mike Moye, no decision on Berkman's option would be made until the offseason. Berkman would like to remain in Houston and hopes the club will chalk up his struggles to missing most of Spring Training and the first two weeks of the regular season after undergoing knee surgery.

"There were some extenuating circumstances where they may feel like I'm not a declining player, but just some circumstances that have kept me from performing the way I'm used to performing," Berkman said. "It's all in their court. That's the power of a team option.

"They can make that determination. They haven't given me any indication one way or another what they were thinking as far picking it up or not picking it up, but if I'm just sitting here looking at what I'm seeing and knowing the kind of year I've had, I would say they probably won't pick it up, but I don't know that for sure."

Berry to take rest of year off

CHICAGO -- Former Astros hitting coach Sean Berry told MLB.com on Tuesday he came close to accepting a job within the organization before deciding to turn down a position in player development to take the rest of the year off to be with his family.

"It was a tough one to turn down," said Berry, who plans to fly to Houston later this week from his home in California to collect his belongings.

Berry, 44, was relieved of his duties Sunday after four years on the job and several more in the organization as Minor League hitting coordinator and hitting coach at Double-A Round Rock. General manager Ed Wade offered him a chance to remain in the organization in an undefined role in player development.

"I told Ed had this come down a couple of weeks down the line, my answer might have been different," he said. "I wanted to talk to the family and they were supportive of whatever I wanted to do. It wasn't taking the easy way out, that's not my style. It was more of a case of I owed my family a little extra time."

Berry would like to return to coaching next season, and plans to keep the lines of communication open with the Astros and Wade.

"Like I told Ed, I've been part of this organization for a long time and we helped build it and it's time start building it back up, and I wouldn't mind being a part of that," Berry said. "Having said that, you have to be aware of the responsibilities to your family and all that stuff, too."

Blum easing way into baseball drills

CHICAGO -- Veteran infielder Geoff Blum has begun tossing lightly from short distances and fielding ground balls, only days after having the staples removed from his surgically repaired right elbow. Blum underwent surgery July 7 to remove loose bodies from the elbow.

Blum threw gently from 30 feet Monday and plans to progress each day with the hope of returning by the end of the month.

"It was sore and tired, but there wasn't much pain," Blum said. "I have to get into the flow of things and throw from longer than 30 feet. I want to rush it, but they don't want to rush it. I'm going to do what I can, and if it starts to hurt, I'm going to back off. Until then, I'm going to try to push it as hard as I can."

Blum, a switch-hitter, was hitting .241 with no homers and 14 RBIs in 59 games before going on the disabled list.

"I'm just trying to get strength back in the elbow, and whatever the arm gives me I'll take," he said.