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03/28/08 3:23 PM ET

Astros cut Abercrombie, Paronto

Houston's roster, now at 28 players, close to being finalized

HOUSTON -- The Astros drew closer to finalizing their 25-man roster Friday, when they eliminated two players from consideration: outfielder Reggie Abercrombie and right-handed reliever Chad Paronto. Both were outrighted to Triple-A Round Rock.

Abercrombie, 26, cleared waivers prior to his assignment. Paronto, 32, has 72 hours to accept the assignment or elect free agency. Any player with a prior outright or three or more years of Major League service time has the option to elect free agency instead of accepting an outright assignment. Paronto qualifies under both criteria.

Abercrombie was one of five position players auditioning for two open spots on the Opening Day roster and is the first to be eliminated. Outfielder Jose Cruz Jr., catcher Humberto Quintero and infielders Tomas Perez and David Newhan remain in the running. Barring injury, Cruz Jr., who has hit .355 this spring, is a shoo-in for one of the spots.

Abercrombie hit .217 (10-for-46) with five RBIs and nine stolen bases for the Astros this spring. He has played in 146 career Major League games during two seasons with Florida (2006-07) and has hit .208 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs.

Paronto was 0-3 with a 12.38 ERA in eight appearances during Grapefruit League competition. A veteran of five Major League seasons with Baltimore (2001), Cleveland (2002-03) and Atlanta (2006-07), he is 6-11 with a 4.06 ERA and one save in 165 career big league appearances.

The Astros' spring roster of active players now stands at 28. Houston hosts the Detroit Tigers at Minute Maid Park in a pair of exhibition games this weekend, including a 7:05 p.m. CT start Friday and a 1:05 p.m. start Saturday.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.