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09/10/08 9:20 PM ET

Astros need to advance to see Lee

Slugger out at least one more month with broken finger

HOUSTON -- Carlos Lee has been spotted in the Astros' clubhouse and dugout at times during their current homestand, but if the Astros hope to see him manning his position in left field this year, they have some work to do.

The Astros would have to win the National League Wild Card and advance past the NL Division Series in order for Lee to play again this year. He had surgery to repair a broken left pinky finger which he suffered on Aug. 9, and on Wednesday, general manager Ed Wade said Lee would be cleared to play in a game in four weeks.

October 10 would fall during the NL Championship Series.

"The fractures are well-aligned," Wade said, repeating a report he received from team doctor Tom Mehlhoff. "They're healing well. He is able to take the protective device he's got on his hand off and do flexing exercises."

There is a small chance Lee could be ready before a month from now, but it's unlikely.

"It's possible you can force it before then, but realistically, we're looking at four weeks before he can be playing in a game," Wade said. "It's the same as the original prognosis."

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