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07/24/09 9:01 PM ET

Sampson's return to Astros imminent

Reliever throws sim game, likely to come off DL Sunday

HOUSTON -- Reliever Chris Sampson threw a simulated game off the Minute Maid Park mound on Friday prior to the Astros' first game of a three-game set with the New York Mets.

Sampson, who's been on the disabled list retroactive to July 10 with right shoulder spasms, threw 25 pitches and said that he's feeling better and is confident he'll be back in uniform soon. He's eligible to come off the disabled list Sunday.

"I feel a lot better," Sampson said. "The rest did some good. I was having good action on my two-seamer and my slider. I threw a couple bad curveballs, but all in all it felt good. I was throwing strikes and hitting my spots."

The Astros will wait to see how the right-hander feels on Saturday, and if the feedback is positive, it is likely Sampson will come off the DL on Sunday for the series finale against the Mets, and then be available to pitch when Houston travels to Chicago and St. Louis next week.

"The hitters said I had life on the ball and it had movement that was late and down, which is key for me," Sampson said. "The main thing was that it was moving late, which is good, because when my arm was bothering me it wasn't moving at all. If it was moving, it was just kind of rolling up there and not having any sharp break. Hopefully all will be well [Saturday] and I'll be ready to go Sunday."

Sampson has been one of the Astros' most reliable relief pitchers this season, going 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 41 appearances.

"He looked sharp and looked like he hadn't missed any time at all," manager Cecil Cooper said. "The ball had some life on it, with some cut and run and some nice break."

The Astros are also closer to getting right-handed reliever Doug Brocail off the disabled list. In his second rehab outing at Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday, Brocail allowed one run on one hit and recorded a strikeout in one inning of work. He has been on the DL since May 4 with a left hamstring strain. He will continue his rehab at Double-A Corpus Christi on Saturday, and is scheduled to pitch Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday of next week.

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