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06/06/08 9:00 PM ET

Quintero back with the big club

Catcher happy to return to familiar surroundings

HOUSTON -- Humberto Quintero walked into the Astros' clubhouse to greetings and handshakes on Friday as old teammates welcomed the catcher back from Triple-A Round Rock.

Quintero was called up to replace J.R. Towles, who was optioned to the Express in an attempt to fix his offensive struggles.

The 28-year-old said he was glad to be back in the familiar territory of Minute Maid Park.

"I know everybody here, so it's good for me," he said. "I know the pitchers. I know everybody, so I'm really happy to be here with the team."

The native of Venezuela was sent down to the Minors on April 18 after playing one game this season.

In 32 games for Round Rock, Quintero had 28 hits and 18 RBIs with a .237 average.

Astros manager Cecil Cooper said Quintero's bat has steadily improved since he was designated for assignment.

"He does well when he hits it into right center," Cooper said. "He was struggling when we sent him down. He wasn't playing a lot, and some guys have to have regular time."

The Astros, who purchased Quintero's contract, expect him to back up Brad Ausmus, but Cooper said they could count on him full-time if necessary.

"He can catch and throw, and that's what a backup catcher is supposed to do," Cooper said. "He was with us in spring and was with us for three years. He knows the pitchers and he's familiar with what we try to do, so that's always a plus."

Krysten Oliphant is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.