© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

03/21/11 4:51 PM ET

Shuck still in the mix as spring winds down

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- With outfielders T.J. Steele and Drew Locke being sent to Minor League camp on Monday, the lone remaining outfield non-roster invitee in Major League camp is J.B. Shuck.

The Astros are still searching for their fifth outfielder behind starters Carlos Lee, Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence, and backup Jason Michaels, who's had a terrific spring. Brian Bogusevic and Jason Bourgeois are the favorites for the final spot, but manager Brad Mills says Shuck is in the mix.

"Hopefully, they know what my style of game is, and I just wanted to come in here and give the manager and coaches up here a chance to see it so they can see that I'm a hard worker and I just do what I have to do to get it done," Shuck said. "Hopefully, I've been able to show that."

Shuck, 23, is a left-handed hitter who owns a career .303 Minor League average, but he only has 139 career at-bats at Triple-A. Shuck, who's hitting .257 in 35 at-bats this spring, understands his chances of making the team are small, but with a week to go he's beginning to feel anxious.

"You keep working hard to fight for a spot," Shuck said. "Wherever I go, I'm going to be ready to play. I have a lot of experience just being up here and learning from these guys."

Sanchez to return to action Wednesday

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Infielder Angel Sanchez, who's been out of action for a few days with an upper back strain, was cleared to perform all baseball drills Monday, including batting practice. He's expected to play Wednesday against the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla.

"I feel really good this morning, and hopefully [the injury] won't happen again," he said.

Sanchez, who's competing for one of the backup infield spots, has been held to just 28 at-bats this spring and is hitting .250. That's fewer at-bats than Anderson Hernandez (32), Tommy Manzella (34) and Matt Downs (36), who are also vying for a backup infield spot.

Sanchez hit .280 with 25 RBIs in 250 at-bats last year after being acquired from the Red Sox in exchange for Kevin Cash shortly after Manzella broke his finger and missed more than six weeks. Sanchez started 57 games at shortstop and seven games at second base.

Bourn slowly getting into game shape

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Considering all the extra work the Astros do prior to games in the spring, it's challenging for players like Michael Bourn to go all out in the games without wearing themselves out prior to Opening Day. But Bourn knows getting his legs in game shape is an important aspect to his spring.

"I'm just trying to get my legs underneath me and make sure I'm prepared for the season," he said. "It's a week away. I just try to make sure I'm OK. I'm feeling pretty good. It's kind of hard to get your legs underneath you because you're doing all the other stuff in the morning. You're not going to be at full speed until the season starts, but I'll go as far as I can and I'll be OK."

Bourn went 2-for-3 in Monday's loss to the Tigers, with a pair of hits off left-hander Phil Coke, and he also stole his second base of the season. One of those hits was a bunt single in the fifth.

"I try to do at least one bunt every game, every other game, at least, in Spring Training," he said. "It's something that I want to work on and get better at in the beginning of the season and as the season goes on. I'll try to continue to experiment with it."

Worth noting

Manager Brad Mills said he'd like most of his roster decisions to made by the time the Astros break camp next Monday, but the team will take extra players to Oklahoma City, Okla., for a March 29 exhibition against the new Triple-A affiliate, and to Houston for the March 30 exhibition against the Red Sox at Minute Maid Park.

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