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04/28/09 7:35 PM ET

Moehler, Backe progressing in rehabs

Astros want hurlers to stretch out in Minor League starts

CINCINNATI -- The Astros are waiting for two starters who are working through their rehabilitation assignments to return to the big league club.

On Wednesday, Brian Moehler (0-2, 27.00 ERA) will make his second rehab start in the Minors as he continues to recover from a sprained right knee. He'll pitch for Double-A Corpus Christi against Midland, and Cooper said the club wants him to reach 100 pitches.

"He hadn't been getting a lot of pitches his last couple starts," Cooper said. "The first rehab he had was 70. He needs to get it in the 100 area -- or close to it."

Moehler actually is eligible to return from the 15-day DL Wednesday, but Houston has opted to keep him in the Minors for at least one more appearance. Depending on how he throws, Cooper said the Astros could extend his rehab. In his first rehab appearance last Friday, Moehler made 77 pitches, allowing three hits and one earned run in four innings for Triple-A Round Rock.

Brandon Backe -- who started the season on the disabled list with a strained left intercostal muscle -- started for Round Rock on Monday, throwing 63 pitches. He's next scheduled for a start with Corpus Christi on Saturday, when he's scheduled to throw 80-85 pitches.

Josh Katzowitz is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.