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07/24/10 12:09 AM ET

Pair of injured hurlers approaches return

HOUSTON -- Astros pitchers Brian Moehler and Jeff Fulchino each threw in a simulated game on Friday, taking another step toward rejoining the club.

Moehler is on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 8 with a strained right groin. He served as the Astros' fifth starter while Felipe Paulino was on the DL. Manager Brad Mills said Moehler had good stuff during the throwing session on Friday, but the right-hander struggled with his command.

"When you haven't thrown in some time, that's going to happen," Mills said. "I think tomorrow is going to be a big day with him, and we'll go forward with that. We'll see how he feels tomorrow, and he'll throw a side on Sunday."

Fulchino has been on the DL since June 29 with tendinitis, and Mills said that the reliever felt fine and threw the ball well.

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow," Mills said. "If he continues to feel well, then Sunday could be a possibility to send him out on a rehab [appearance]."

Oswalt won't let money hold up trade

HOUSTON -- Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt, who's been at the center of trade speculation since he asked the club to trade him to a contender two months ago, said on Friday that money won't be an issue in approving a trade from the Astros, hinting that he's not worried about teams' willingness to pick up his $16 million option for 2012.

"The money part, I can work out with anybody," he said. "We can work on doing different things to restructure whatever they want to do. The biggest thing is making it work for both of us."

Oswalt, who will try to tie the franchise's all-time wins record when he faces the Reds on Saturday, is due to make $16 million next season in the last year of his contract, but there's a club option for 2012 that would pay him another $16 million.

It has been reported Oswalt wanted any club interested in trading for him to pick up his option in order for him to waive his no-trade clause. Oswalt doesn't expect the option to be a bone of contention.

"I'm going to find a way to get it done if it works for both of us," he said. "I'm not going to go somewhere that's bad for me. I don't want to do anything that puts the Astros in a bad situation."

The Phillies and Cardinals remain the focus in the trade negotiations, which Astros general manager Ed Wade declined to discuss, citing a team policy. Oswalt didn't offer much information on Friday.

"I think my biggest focus is still pitching and this will work itself out," Oswalt said. "I don't think about this when I'm away from the field. I'm trying to focus on winning the game tomorrow."

Manzella participates in fielding drills

HOUSTON -- Astros shortstop Tommy Manzella had his broken left index finger X-rayed on Thursday and was cleared to begin taking ground balls, throwing and playing catch, which he did on Friday for the first time since fracturing the finger June 24. He will begin taking dry swings Saturday.

"They still could see evidence of the break but it's intact," Manzella said. "The way it's been explained to me, it's out of that danger area where I can work around with and it won't injure it any farther. [A team doctor] still thinks it's on that six-week program to get cleared to play in a game."

Manzella, who was hitting .212 in 189 at-bats before the injury, is hopeful that he will be able to go out on a Minor League rehab assignment by the end of the month.

"It's going to be a progression, and I'll be able to move forward as well as I can with no setbacks," Manzella said.

Figueroa, Hernandez join Astros

HOUSTON -- Reliever Nelson Figueroa and infielder Anderson Hernandez were in an Astros uniform on Friday for the first time since the club claimed the pair off waivers from the Phillies and Indians respectively.

Figueroa pitched well with the Phillies before they designated him for assignment, with a 2-1 record and a 3.46 ERA. He said he expects to work in long relief for the time being, though he's open to any role.

"They can use me in any way possible," Figueroa said. "It will be good to be used and get out there in any way possible and contribute."

Figueroa replaces reliever Gary Majewski, who cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Round Rock.

Joining Figueroa was Hernandez, who hit .246 in 22 games for the Indians this season. Manager Brad Mills said he will likely use him at shortstop when Angel Sanchez isn't starting.

"I'm very happy because when I got on waivers, I was a little worried," Hernandez said. "I can play shortstop, but I haven't had a chance to talk to the manager yet. I'm here to help the team."

Bourgeois gets call in center against lefty

HOUSTON -- Astros outfielder Jason Bourgeois started at center field on Friday against Reds starter Travis Wood. Manager Brad Mills said that he inserted Bourgeois in the lineup because of his success against left-handers. He entered the day hitting .316 against southpaws.

"He's got so much ability and he's so quick with his speed," Mills said. "I like his approach. Both he and [Michael] Bourn, when they are on, they can wreak some havoc."

Bourn, who is the regular starter in center field, has struggled against left-handed hitters this season, only batting .190.

"I talked to Bourny before the break and told him it's not a platoon situation," Mills said. "But there are times when I'll put Bourgeois out there against left-handers."

Mills also said he isn't worried about Bourn's struggles against lefties because his splits were even last year.

"This year might be a little bit of an anomaly," Mills said.

Worth noting

J.R. Towles, who began the season as the Astros' starting catcher before he was sent to Double-A Corpus Christi early this season, is likely out for the rest of the year after being diagnosed on Friday with a slight tear in a tendon in his thumb, which he broke during a head-first slide on May 13. He'll undergo surgery on Monday, which will be performed by team physician Dr. Tom Mehlhoff, and will miss six weeks. ... Former Astros pitcher Doug Brocail has taken on a larger role and is now a paid special assistant to general manager Ed Wade.

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