HOUSTON -- After throwing 30-35 pitches in the bullpen Sunday in New York and making a 3 1/2-hour flight to Houston later that night, relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom reported to Minute Maid Park on Monday feeling surprisingly good.

Lindstrom, on the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 17 with a lower back strain, hopes to be able to throw at least one inning for Double-A Corpus Christi on a Minor League rehab assignment within the next couple of days and then be activated later in the week.

"I feel 110 percent better than I felt the last couple of days," Lindstrom said. "I'm ready to go get an inning in. I've been doing a lot of stabilization exercises and stuff like that and making good progress, too. Right now I feel like I did the first half of the season. It's just kind of like a big weight off my mind. I've been dealing with this for a long time now."

Lindstrom's back flared up in Philadelphia last weekend and pushed his rehab back by at least a day, but he feels his back problems are behind him. He was so concerned about his back problems that he put down $5,000 for a new bed, which has helped.

"After games I was struggling to get comfortable and would wake up four or five different times during the night," Lindstrom said. "A lot of guys would agree with me that sleep's pretty important when you're going through the season and how much of a grind it is. I'm starting to figure it out a little bit."

Progressing Paulino throws off mound

HOUSTON -- Right-hander Felipe Paulino, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 21 with right shoulder tendinitis, threw off a mound Monday for the first time in several weeks.

Paulino was told to rest by team medical director Dr. David Lintner and Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala.

"For the first day on the hill, I felt pretty good," Paulino said. "I threw 30 pitches of fastballs, and I'll throw another one Wednesday with breaking pitches."

Paulino was 1-8 with a 4.40 ERA in 14 starts before getting injured. He said the shoulder feels great and hopes to be able to return to action by the end of the season, perhaps even as early as next week. Because he won't have a chance to build his arm up in any Minor League games, Paulino will likely be limited to relief duty.

"My focus right now is on getting back to the game," Paulino said. "The last two months I had to fight with this, and finally I can find myself and my shoulder strong, and I'll be back to the game soon. That's my focus this year. It's not been easy to me."

Bourn shakes off leg injury to start

HOUSTON -- Before putting center fielder Michael Bourn in the starting lineup Monday, Astros manager Brad Mills shot the speedster a text message to make sure his hamstring was fine.

Bourn left Sunday's loss to the Mets in New York in the eighth inning after straining his left hamstring while running out a ground ball in the third inning. Bourn said there was a chance he might not play Monday, but he was in his familiar leadoff spot against the Cardinals with no restrictions.

"I'm going to try to go as far as I can go," Bourn said.

Mills said the players understand their bodies more than anybody, but he expects them to be up front about any ailments they might have.

"These guys are really good about it," Mills said. "One of the reasons we took him out when we did last night was that he would be OK and didn't take a chance he would get hurt worse and maybe sit out longer. He said he's OK, and he looks OK moving around and stuff."

Bourn stretched his hitting streak to a season-long-tying nine games with a first-inning single Monday.

Roster won't expand fully right away

HOUSTON -- The Astros can expand their roster beyond 25 players beginning Wednesday. General manager Ed Wade has said there won't be a lot of players coming up from the Minor Leagues, and considering Triple-A Round Rock doesn't end its season until Sept. 6, some players might not join the club for another week.

Houston also hopes to get second baseman Jeff Keppinger and pitcher Matt Lindstrom back from the 15-day disabled list this week, which will increase the roster.

"I think you'll probably see a couple of guys on Wednesday and a couple of guys later on," Mills said. "The reason is because we can't devastate the [Round Rock] team. They need to have enough guys to finish. Of course, we're going to get Lindstrom off the DL fairly soon, if not on [Wednesday], and Keppinger will be back. We'll get those guys right away. Some of the other guys, we'll have to wait and see, depending on the schedule and so forth."

Mills has the same philosophy on September callups as Wade. They only want to call up players who can help the Major League club and not as solely a reward for a good Minor League season.

"We need to see about some guys, watch how they play," Mills said. "A lot of guys we've seen in Spring Training, but in this atmosphere it's a little bit different, and to see how they handle themselves in this atmosphere is a big thing. Some guys we really don't know that much about, and we need to take a look at them."

Worth noting

Jeff Keppinger, who went 1-for-1 with a walk and reached on catcher's interference in three plate appearances Sunday on a Minor League rehab stint with Double-A Corpus Christi, was scheduled to play all nine innings of Monday's game. He should be activated Wednesday. ... Right-hander Alberto Arias, who has been out all season after undergoing rotator cuff surgery, has begun throwing off flat ground and hopes to be ready by next season. ... Pitchers Douglas Arguello and Jordan Lyles have been selected to the Texas League 2010 postseason All-Star team. Arguello, on the disabled list, leads the league with a 2.55 ERA and is 7-5 for Double-A Corpus Christi. Lyles, 19, was promoted to Triple-A this month after going 7-9 with a 3.12 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) at Double-A.