CINCINNATI -- Michael Bourn's strained oblique is feeling well enough to allow him to run and throw a baseball from 60 feet without much pain, but it's probably not going to be healed enough to allow him to get into a game in time for Sunday's season finale.
"I'm taking it day-by-day," said Bourn, who suffered the injury Sept. 19 while swinging a bat. "It feels much better and they told me when it feels good, to take an extra week. I don't know. I still haven't done swinging. I did throw [Wednesday] and it felt pretty good. It's still sore, but not as bad."
The reality for Bourn is there's no reason to allow him to play this weekend against the Cubs, other than his desire to get into a game. Jason Bourgeois started all 10 games at center field in Bourn's absence.
"Do I want to go into the offseason starting back at square one or do I want to keep progressing where I'm at now and I'm almost through it?" Bourn said. "We're out of playoff contention, so the risk factor might not be worth it. If we were in the race, I'd try it. I might be able to pinch-run, but I might not. I'm trying to get them to let me swing but they don't know if I'm ready to do that because I haven't done any rotational stuff."
Free agency rules won't impact Astros
CINCINNATI -- Astros general manager Ed Wade said the procedural changes on how free agency works that were agreed to by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association won't have a big effect on how his team does business this offseason.
Among the provisions announced Thursday is that players no longer will have to file for free agency; it will be an automatic process. Free agents will be able to negotiate with any team five days after the World Series ends instead of 15, and clubs have until Nov. 23 to offer arbitration to their own free agents (those players have until Nov. 30 to accept).
Also, clubs must tender contracts by Dec. 2, nine days earlier than the previous deadline.
"I don't envision it having any profound effect on us," Wade said. "The tender deadlines and things of that nature have changed fairly frequently, so we'll certainly handle that."
The Astros have two players with options for next year: infielder Geoff Blum (mutual option) and outfielder Jason Michaels (club option). The club has until three days after the World Series ends to make a decision on Michaels and two days for Blum. If the club elects to pick up Blum's option, he has two days to decide whether he wants to return.
Michaels' option for next year is worth $900,000, which comes with a $100,000 buyout if he reaches 200 plate appearances (he entered Thursday at 197). Blum's option for next year is worth $1.65 million with a $150,000 buyout.
Young Astros like Reds in Keppinger's eyes
CINCINNATI -- Second baseman Jeff Keppinger, who played for the Reds in 2007-08 before being traded to the Astros, notices some similarities between where the Astros are now and where the Reds were a few years ago when he was with them.
"They had [Ken] Griffey and [Adam] Dunn and got rid of Griffey and the next year they didn't sign Dunn, sort of like we got rid of [Lance] Berkman and [Roy] Oswalt," Keppinger said. "They went with young guys and picked up a few free agents, and those guys have done well. There's a lot of comparisons with what we're doing over here."
Keppinger played with the Reds while they were transitioning to the nucleus of players they used to win the National League Central Division title this year. He became expendable because the Reds had Brandon Phillips at second base and Alex Gonzalez at shortstop.
"It's nice they gave the young kids a chance to play and they're doing well," said Keppinger, who was traded for Drew Sutton. "They didn't just go out and have to go for veteran guys at every position. They did it inside the organization, and you know they made some good trades along the way and it's paid off."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.