© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/30/10 2:44 PM ET

Blum ready for increased time at shortstop

MILWAUKEE -- Geoff Blum was back in the starting lineup at shortstop on Wednesday after Oswaldo Navarro had started the previous four games. It's the ninth start at the position this year for Blum, and fourth since rookie Tommy Manzella broke his thumb.

Astros general manager Brad Mills is trying to be careful with how much he uses the 37-year-old Blum, a switch-hitter who was hitting .353 (6-for-17) against Brewers starter Dave Bush entering Wednesday's game.

"I think a lot of it has to do with where we're playing and the weather," Mills said. "I know that might sound silly, but a couple of days in Texas against the Rangers might be worth four days somewhere else. Depending on how the matchups are, and how the pitchers are and who they're throwing, all those things enter into it."

Blum, who played only one game at shortstop last year, started one game last weekend in the heat in Arlington and admitted it was challenging. But he said he'll be ready whenever Mills asks.

"He's smart about it and I'm smart about it, too," Blum said. "I'm going to keep him as informed as I can. I've been feeling good of late, and I'm going to go out there as often as he wants me to and as often as I can."

Paulino's return likely after All-Star break

MILWAUKEE -- There's a chance right-hander Felipe Paulino, on the disabled list since June 21 with right shoulder tendinitis, might not return until after the All-Star break. Paulino hasn't suffered a setback, but he's eligible to come off the DL next week and would make only one start before the break.

Astros manager Brad Mills and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg have discussed giving Paulino the extra time to make sure he's healed. And considering he's thrown 86 innings -- his career high in the pros is 132 1/3 -- the extra rest might be a good idea.

"We're definitely going to be cautious with him, especially since he's such a special arm," Mills said. "We want to make sure he's 100 percent and his strength is back where it needs to be. We need to err on the side of caution and let him get strong."

Paulino, who is 1-8 with a 4.40 ERA in 14 starts, is throwing off flat ground and played catch with Mills on the field prior to Saturday's game. But there are not yet any plans for him to get on a mound and begin throwing.

"He threw the ball real well," Mills said.

Daigle returns to Astros with cutter

MILWAUKEE -- Right-hander Casey Daigle arrived at Miller Park about an hour before Wednesday's game against the Brewers, and was jokingly told by Astros general manager Ed Wade he was being fined $10,000 for not having a sports coat for the trip.

Daigle did have something new when the rejoined the club, however, a cutter that he began working on a few weeks ago at the urging of teammate Brandon Lyon. Daigle was on the Astros' roster from June 1-22, and appeared in nine games before being sent to Triple-A Round Rock.

He appeared in only one game in Round Rock in the week he was with the club, but he worked a few times in the bullpen on the cutter, which he hopes to use to go inside to left-handers and away from right-handers. Daigle already throws a sinker, slider and split-fingered fastball.

"I never had [a cutter], and I wanted something to get to the glove side," Daigle said. "When I was getting beat [in his previous stint in Houston], I was trying to go to the glove side and [the ball] was leaking back. I'm cutting it over there now, and it feels really good."

Lyon saw Daigle tinker with the pitch before he got sent down.

"I'm excited to see what it looks like and how he throws it," Lyon said.

Worth noting

Right-hander Josh Banks, who was designated for assignment on Sunday after making a spot start against the Rangers, cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to Triple-A Round Rock. ... The Astros signed two Draft picks on Wednesday: right-handers Jason Chowning, a 28th round pick out of the University of Oklahoma, and Paul Gerrish, a 42nd round pick out of TCU. Houston has signed 31 of 52 Draft picks, nine selected in the first 10 rounds.

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