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03/24/10 7:26 PM ET

Seasoned Daigle could help Astros staff

Journeyman right-hander continues surprisingly strong spring

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Looking for a dark-horse contender to win a roster spot for the Astros out of Spring Training? Then perhaps right-hander Casey Daigle is your man.

Daigle, a non-roster invitee who hasn't pitched in a Major League game since 2006, threw four strong innings as a starter in Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park, allowing three hits, no earned runs or walks and striking out four.

Astros manager Brad Mills said Daigle, 29, is in the mix for a bullpen spot, an area that became a little more wide open when general manager Ed Wade said Tuesday that Alberto Arias would likely begin the season on the disabled list with rotator cuff impingement and weakness.

"When you throw the ball like that, you've got to be in the mix," Mills said.

Daigle, who made a spot start because Houston's rotation was thrown off by a rainout and an illness to Bud Norris, has a 0.87 ERA in five spring outings for the Astros, allowing nine hits and two runs (one earned) and striking out 13 batters in 10 1/3 innings.

"I feel like I've thrown the ball well," he said. "I've done what they've asked me to do and tried to do the best I could. I feel great, the arm feels great and my pitches feel good. My sinker feels good, my split feels great and my slider I'm able to throw behind or ahead in the count. I feel good where I'm at."

Drafted by Arizona with the 31st overall pick in 1999 out of Sulphur, La., Daigle began the 2004 season in the D-backs' rotation and was 2-3 with a 7.16 ERA in 10 starts. He spent all of 2005 in the Minors and appeared in 10 games in relief in 2006 for Arizona.

He pitched at Triple-A Rochester in the Twins' organization in 2008 and last year was 4-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 49 games in relief at Triple-A Round Rock after being released by the Texas Rangers on April 1. He's 2-3 with a 6.46 ERA in 20 career Major League games.

"I feel like I've matured in my years," he said. "When I made the team as a starter in '04 in Arizona, I felt I was ready but I definitely wasn't. But now after more years or seasoning or whatever you want to call it, I felt like it's time to go and I felt good. I'm just hoping to help the team anyway. I'm not prejudiced to anything. I'll go out there for an out or I'll go out there for five innings."

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