HOUSTON -- Matt Lindstrom, who has blown his last two save opportunities, said on Friday tests revealed he had no structural damage in his back -- which comes as a relief to the closer who has battled back problems for a few weeks.
Lindstrom underwent an MRI and X-ray on Wednesday and was diagnosed with a muscle strain. He was put on medication to help him deal with the pain -- and Lindstrom said he's already feeling better.
"It's quite a relief to know that there's nothing really wrong," he said. "Everything's intact and I'm structurally sound. I'm going to keep getting treatment and take it day-by-day.
Lindstrom blew saves last Friday in Milwaukee and Tuesday against the Braves -- allowing a total of three home runs in those two outings. He had given up one home run previously. The back has been bothering Lindstrom just before he releases a pitch, causing him to fly open during his delivery. But, the closer has been trying to downplay the back's effect on his performance.
"It's something I've been dealing with," he said. "I'm pretty stubborn -- and I like to take the ball whenever the manager is going to give it to me. Did it affect me? Probably a little bit, but I thought I could get the job done, regardless. I still have my strength and stuff, but you don't realize how much you use your legs and lower half."
Manager Brad Mills said the Astros were going to be cautious with Lindstrom.
"We want to make sure he's absolutely 100 percent by the time he does go out there," Mills said. "We'll probably give the meds a little time to work. We'll see how he is on a daily basis, but really be as cautious as we can."
Norris to replace Figueroa on Saturday
HOUSTON -- The Astros were forced to shuffle their rotation for the next few days after right-hander Nelson Figueroa, originally scheduled to start on Saturday, had to undergo an arteriogram on Wednesday due to migraine-like symptoms he was experiencing.
Figueroa will make his first start for the Astros on Tuesday against the Mets, his former team. Bud Norris will start Saturday, J.A. Happ on Sunday and Wandy Rodriguez on Monday -- all on four days of rest.
"Everything checked out OK," Figueroa said. "They just felt it was better to be on the safe side -- and I agree with them -- and we handled it that way. With the day off on Thursday, it wasn't going to hurt the rotation. Everybody can just jump back in their spot and I'll join the rotation on Tuesday instead."
Figueroa, claimed off waivers from the Phillies, is starting in the rotation spot held by Wesley Wright before he was sent down. Figueroa made a spot start for Philadelphia on April 24 at Arizona, allowing five hits and two earned runs in five innings to get a win while throwing 100 pitches. He's 11-24 with a 4.93 ERA in 50 career starts.
Continued rest recommended for Paulino
HOUSTON -- In the case of Felipe Paulino, the second opinion confirmed the first.
Paulino, who's been on the disabled list since June 21 with right shoulder tendinitis, was examined Thursday in Pensacola, Fla., by Dr. James Andrews -- who concurred with the original diagnosis of team medical director Dr. David Lintner and recommended continued rest and treatment.
Paulino was relieved he doesn't have to have surgery.
"It was good news," he said. "They took another MRI and compared it to the one they took a couple of months ago -- and it showed a big difference. They can see how the recovery is coming now. They just told me to keep doing what you're doing and play catch."
Paulino is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list next week. But, it's growing increasingly likely he won't be able to pitch again this season. He would still need to build up his arm strength and pitch in some simulated games before getting back on the mound in a Major League game.
"There's no timetable yet," manager Brad Mills said. "We're waiting to see how his shoulder responds to the rest and how quickly that strength comes back."
Bourn wins Heart and Hustle Award
HOUSTON -- All-Star center fielder Michael Bourn has been named the team's winner of the Heart and Hustle Award. He will be honored in a pregame presentation Sunday at Minute Maid Park.
The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association selects one winner from each team and will announce the overall winner on Nov. 5 at the 11th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York. Craig Biggio won the award in 2006 and 2007.
The award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game. The MLBPAA formed 30 committees, comprised of former players with established relationships with each team.
The Legends for Youth Dinner is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics. These clinics impact more than 6,500 children each year -- allowing them the unique opportunity to interact with and learn from players who have left a lasting impact on the game of baseball.
Bourn leads the National League in stolen bases and infield hits. He was named to his first National League All-Star team this year.
Geoff Blum started at second base Friday, marking his second start at second this year (June 27 at Texas). ... The Astros have agreed to terms with 39th-round Draft pick Krishawn Holley, a right-handed pitcher from Mid Carolina High School. He has been assigned to the Astros' Gulf Coast League club. Houston has signed 34 players ahead of Monday's deadline to sign Draft picks. ... Shortstop Tommy Manzella went 3-for-4 on Wednesday for Triple-A Round Rock in the seventh game of his rehab assignment. He was hitting .500 (11-for-22), which included five games at Double-A Corpus Christi. He's been on the disabled list since June 24 with a fractured left index finger.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.