HOUSTON -- The Astros activated shortstop Clint Barmes from the disabled list following Thursday's 11-7 loss to the Cardinals and designated infielder Joe Inglett for assignment. Barmes is expected to make his Astros debut on Friday night.
Inglett, who was acquired from the Rays in a trade late in Spring Training, hit .208 (5-for-24) in limited time with the Astros, including two starts. The Astros have 10 days to trade Inglett, release him or place him on waivers.
"Joe did everything here that we asked him. I think an awful lot of Joe," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "Every day this guy came out and took ground balls and worked out in the outfield and started to swing the bat with more playing time. ... He didn't get many at-bats, and it was a situation that was difficult for him, but he made the best with what he could and what he did, and I appreciate that an awful lot."
Barmes was acquired in November to be the starting shortstop but broke his left hand March 25, when he was hit by a pitch in a Spring Training game. He played his fourth and final rehab game Thursday night, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored for Double-A Corpus Christi.
Sanchez flexible upon Barmes' return
HOUSTON -- With shortstop Clint Barmes activated from the disabled list Thursday night, and Joe Inglett designated for assignment, Angel Sanchez said he is ready and willing to handle any role he'll be given.
"Anything they want me to do I'll be ready for it, no matter where or how," Sanchez said. "I'll be ready for any job."
Sanchez has started all of the Astros' 25 games at shortstop and is hitting .300 with 15 RBIs after Thursday's 11-7 loss to the Cardinals. But Barmes, who broke his hand in Spring Training, will take over as the starter.
"I'm really happy," Sanchez said. "I want to see him playing. I'm really happy for him that he finally got healthy."
Sanchez will probably be pushed into a bench role, and manager Brad Mills said he'll plan to talk to Sanchez about his new role at some point soon.
"The type of manager I am, I usually try to talk to the guys and try to keep them aware of what's going on more than anything else," he said. "When am I going to have that conversation with him and anybody else? We'll have to see."
Mills confident Lee will get out of funk
HOUSTON -- Astros manager Brad Mills said it's too early to consider any drastic lineup changes involving left fielder Carlos Lee, who entered Thursday in an 0-for-15 slump in the cleanup spot, or first baseman Brett Wallace, who's batted primarily fifth and is seventh in the National League in hitting.
Mills has faith Lee is going to break out of his slumber and cites his stature and the fact he snapped out of an early-season slump last year as reasons to keep him put. Lee has hit fourth in the batting order in all 25 games and was hitting .198 with two homers and 13 RBIs.
"If you look at his numbers from June on last year, I think they were pretty good," Mills said. "Is that going to happen this year? We don't know, but we think there's a pretty good chance, because it happened last year and his track record of being so good in years past.
"I've got all the confidence in the world in Carlos. He's got a great attitude this year, and we've been happy the way he's played left field and a lot of the plays he's made and the real good, solid at-bats he's had. With his track record and what he's done for the organization and for the teams he's been on, there's no doubt it's a good time for him to work through this."
Lee promptly went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in Thursday's 11-7 loss to the Cardinals.
Wallace extended his hitting streak to eight games Thursday, during which he is hitting .545 (18-for-33), and he remains in the fifth spot.
"There might be, at some point down the line, we might want to move him if that continues, but right now let's let him be Brett Wallace and get three hits in a game like he's done the last couple of days," Mills said.
Lopez nearing return from disabled list
HOUSTON -- Astros right-hander Wilton Lopez, who's been on the 15-day disabled list since April 14 with an ulnar nerve irritation in his right elbow, will throw a simulated game on Saturday and could be activated from the disabled list next week.
Lopez emerged as the Astros' setup man last season, going 5-2 with a 2.96 ERA in 68 games, but he battled elbow issues for most of the first two weeks of the season before going on the DL.
"We want him to face some hitters, and he's going to throw a simulated game on Saturday and if everything comes through that fine we'll look early into next week that he'll be able to come back again," manager Brad Mills said. "Again, we're going to take it one step at a time."
The Astros' bullpen entered Thursday ranked 15th in the 16-team National League with a 4.99 ERA. Only the Arizona Diamondbacks (5.05) had a higher ERA.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.