Abad added to big league roster for first time
Sampson sent down; Astros 'pen now holds three lefties
HOUSTON -- Rookie left-hander Fernando Abad joined the Astros on Sunday after being called up from Double-A Corpus Christi after Saturday's game. Veteran right-hander Chris Sampson was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock.
Abad, making his first appearance on a Major League roster, went 4-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 14 games, including four starts, at Corpus Christi. He posted a 1.93 ERA as a reliever.
"He's been throwing the ball pretty well," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "His last four outings have been real good. He's a left-hander who's a strike-thrower, so we're interested to see what he's able to offer us."
With the addition of Abad, the Astros have three left-handers in the bullpen, including Tim Byrdak and Gustavo Chacin. Mills said the veteran Byrdak would be used as his lefty specialist. Abad was holding left-handers to a .277 batting average in the Minors.
"It's nice to have two lefties in the pen, so it is kind of a luxury to have three. But it's going to be interesting to see what kind of role he's going to be able to fit into, and how we're going to define how he's going to be able to be used," Mills said.
Oswalt trade won't hinge on club wins record
HOUSTON -- Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt said Sunday morning that he wouldn't veto a potential trade in exchange for getting another chance to tie the club's all-time wins record. Oswalt lost to the Reds on Saturday, leaving him one win shy of Joe Niekro's record.
Oswalt, who has requested a trade, will start Friday against the Brewers at Minute Maid Park in his final start before the arrival of Saturday's Trade Deadline. He is tentatively scheduled to start for the Astros on Aug. 4 at St. Louis, which is one of the clubs pursuing him. The Phillies also have a strong interest.
"It would be nice," Oswalt said of becoming the franchise's all-time wins leader. "We'll have to wait and see what happens."
Oswalt said he hasn't been approached by the Astros or his agent about any potential deals. When asked whether he would be disappointed if he didn't get dealt, he said: "I don't know what I'd feel. I've been pretty numb the last two weeks."
In front of Oswalt's locker Sunday was a huge box containing his 2005 National League Championship Series MVP trophy, which he plans to ship to his home in Mississippi. The Astros got him a replacement after the original was destroyed in a tornado earlier this year. Now Oswalt can't help but wonder if he'll be shipped off soon, too.
"You think about it, for sure, not really knowing where you're going to be in the next few days," Oswalt said. "You have to wait until that decision is made and they approach you with something. It would be different for sure, to put on a different uniform. I won't know that feeling until it happens. You never know. I may be here until Oct. 4."
Bourgeois reacquaints himself with second
HOUSTON -- Jason Bourgeois made his second appearance at second base as a Major Leaguer late in Saturday's game, but it's not a position that's completely foreign to him. Bourgeois came through the Minors as a second baseman, but hasn't played the position extensively since 2007.
"The past four or five days, I've been getting my ground balls back in and getting back in the feel of everything," Bourgeois said. "It felt good to get back out there."
Bourgeois, who was approached by the team about seeing some action at second base, has been working with first-base coach Bobby Meacham to improve his footwork at the position, which is the key.
"It feels good to get back in there, and I'm glad to do it in the big leagues, too," Bourgeois said. "They have a lot of trust in me to get out here, and I want to take advantage of every opportunity."
Manager Brad Mills has been using Bourgeois in center field against some left-handers in the last couple of weeks, and he likes the idea of having Bourgeois and Michael Bourn in the lineup at the same time.
"It's a different dynamic they bring to the lineup when we can have Bourn and Bourgeois hitting one and two," Mills said. "Just the things they can do -- if one of them gets on base, it's easy to get something going with their speed."
Blum keeps busy while elbow recovers
HOUSTON -- In addition to a cameo appearance in the Astros' television booth, veteran infielder Geoff Blum has been busy making progress from his July 7 elbow surgery. Blum on Saturday took 15 swings off the tee from each side of the plate and threw from 150 feet without incident.
He said Sunday that he's about a week away from being ready to go out on a Minor League rehab assignment.
"I need to get some at-bats and make sure nothing's too out of whack," Blum said. "I'm bored out of my mind, but I'm kind of happy, because it feels real good."
Blum was a guest of television play-by-play announcer Bill Brown and analyst Jim Deshaies for Saturday's broadcast on FS Houston for about 3 1/2 innings. Jeff Bagwell had been serving as the third man in the booth for Saturday home games before he took the job as hitting coach.
Blum envisions a career in television or radio after his playing days.
"I'd love to," he said. "I know some guys that have made the transition to that and seem to enjoy it, and having four kids, I know I'm not going to be able to retire any time soon."
Astros offer high praise of Ausmus' career
HOUSTON -- Longtime Astros catcher Brad Ausmus, who's in his second year with the Dodgers, returned from a long stint on the disabled list Saturday because of a back problem and later told reporters that he was going to retire at the end of the season.
"He's had a great career," said friend and former teammate Geoff Blum said. "It's unbelievable what he's done -- to stay healthy that long and be on the DL only once in 17 years."
Houston hitting coach Jeff Bagwell remains one of Ausmus' closest friends from their years together with the Astros, and he marvels at the career Ausmus has had.
"He's truly, truly a great catcher," Bagwell said. "Because of him, I have grown to watch what catchers do and judge them against him, and I don't know everybody appreciates how good he was -- I'll give him credit and say, how good he still is. He had durability and has been around the game a long time and is one of the smartest baseball guys I've known."
Bagwell fully expects Ausmus to become a manager whenever he's ready.
"But not right now," Bagwell said. "He's going to spend some time with his family. His girls are right at the age that he'd love to watch them play. They're into sports, so he's going to spend some time with his family, and I imagine he'll get back in the game."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.