CINCINNATI -- Right-hander Vincent Velasquez, the Astros' second-round Draft pick this year, is eager to get his rehab under way and start the long road to recovery after undergoing Tommy John surgery on Wednesday in Houston.
Velasquez, taken at No. 58 out of Pomona, Calif., tore a ligament in his elbow throwing a fastball Aug. 24 while pitching for Rookie League Greeneville. He's likely going to miss all of next season and is targeting to return in time for the 2011 instructional league.
"Every pitcher has a setback, every player has a setback at some point in their lives," Velasquez said. "Everybody goes through it. I'm not worried because I still have a lot of years of development. I'm sure when I come back after the Tommy John surgery I'll be stronger than my ability, and I won't be worried because I know that since I've been through Tommy John, I've got nothing else to worry about."
Velasquez is recuperating at his home in California and will have the stitches removed in two weeks. He plans to report to Kissimmee, Fla., in about a month to begin his rehab, but he won't be able to throw a baseball for six months. He turned 18 years old in June and figures to have a bright future.
"A lot of people come back strong," he said. "I'm looking at the bright side of this, just trying to develop and get stronger. That's only going to benefit me. The thing about it was it really wasn't a complete tear, so that's a plus. It's good to get it over and get it done."
Bourn may be available to pinch-run vs. Reds
CINCINNATI -- Center fielder Michael Bourn, who hasn't played this road trip because of a strained oblique, still isn't doing any baseball drills. Manager Brad Mills was asked if Bourn could pinch-run Tuesday against the Reds, but Mills said he didn't think he was at that point.
"He's doing some more things with [head athletic trainer] Nate [Lucero] and doing strengthening exercises," Mills said. "It's improving, getting much better. We all knew it would at some point, but the strength is starting to come back. He still feels it, but he's getting stronger."
After taking Monday off, Bourn ran on Tuesday but has still yet to swing a bat or throw a ball.
"I think there's a chance I might get in to run in this series," Bourn said. "I don't know for sure. It's up in the air. I don't want to speculate too fast. It was sore when I ran last time, and we'll see how it feels today."
Astros hand out Minor League awards
CINCINNATI -- Right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles was named Tuesday as the Astros' Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and outfielder J.D. Martinez was named Minor League Player of the Year by the club's player development department. Omar Lopez, who managed the Astros' Gulf Coast League affiliate, was named Player Development Man of the Year.
"Jordan and J.D. have both moved through the system at a rapid pace and seem destined to reach the big leagues in the not-too-distant future," said general manager Ed Wade. "Not only are they talented players, but they're solid-makeup, exceptionally-dedicated kids. Omar has impressed everyone with the work he's done for us in player development. He's had an impact everywhere he's gone and is focused on making our kids better."
Lyles went 7-12 with a 3.57 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Round Rock. He spent most of the season in Corpus Christi, going 7-9 with a 3.12 ERA, and was a Texas League All-Star.
Martinez hit .341 with 40 doubles, 18 homers and 89 RBIs combined between Class A Lexington and Double-A Corpus Christi, where he finished the season. He was named the South Atlantic League's Most Valuable Player and was a midseason and postseason All-Star.
All three will be recognized at a pregame ceremony at Minute Maid Park before Saturday's game against the Cubs.
Blum upset by Cal dropping baseball program
CINCINNATI -- Veteran infielder Geoff Blum was upset to learn that the University of California, his alma mater, is going to drop its baseball program. Blum was told of the news by a friend who is close to the program, and at least two online reports confirmed the program was ending.
"It's real tough to hear," said Blum, who played at Cal in the 1990s. "Cal baseball is the reason I am here. Hearing they're losing their baseball program is heartbreaking. Some of my best memories and some of my best friends came out of college. I learned a lot about me and a lot about the game, and to know that it's going to lose its baseball program is terrible."
Other Major Leaguers to have come through Cal are Jeff Kent, Xavier Nady and Brandon Morrow. The program will reportedly be dropped after the 2011 season for budgetary reasons. Blum helped the Bears to the College World Series in 1992, which will likely be their final trip to Omaha.
"You talk about being unprepared," Blum said. "It's a major university in a great conference, and you don't think one of the big three sports would be killed like that, but that's how it is."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.