7/7/2014 10:05 P.M. ET
Astros may look to upgrade bullpen
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The recent struggles of the Astros bullpen, which has suffered from injuries to veterans Jesse Crain and Matt Albers, has owner Jim Crane hoping his team can still upgrade the bullpen as the season moves into the second half.
The Astros began play Monday with their relievers posting a 5.22 ERA -- that's the highest in baseball.
"The bullpen's been hurting us a little bit," said Crane, who was in Arlington on Monday to watch the team play. "We had some guys beat up down there. Crain hasn't come back yet, and we still have Albers out. [Anthony] Bass came back and got beat up. That's something we have to take a look at it and see if we can fix it before the end of the season because it's definitely costing us some games."
Crain has been out of action for more than a year and Albers hasn't played in more than two months because of right shoulder tendinitis.
When asked what can be done about the bullpen, Crane deferred to general manager Jeff Luhnow.
"That's Jeff's job, but I might be in his booth for a while trying to get the answer for that one," he joked. "That would be a good one to figure out."
Crane said whatever moves the Astros might make at the Trade Deadline will be done with the future in mind.
"We're always looking more long term, but we want to try to establish a nucleus this year and win a lot more ballgames than we did last year," he said.
Fowler could be activated later this week
ARLINGTON -- Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler, who's been on the disabled list since June 27 with a right intercostal strain, rejoined the club Monday at Globe Life Park and began some light hitting in the cage with hopes of being activated later this week.
Fowler, who is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday against the Red Sox, said he hadn't done any baseball drills in the last four days after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection into the affected area.
"They actually planned that, even before right when I told them when my injury was," Fowler said. "I was like, 'Well, we'll wait a few days to see how it feels,' and obviously it feels better now. I haven't really done anything but sit there and relax."
The Astros have struggled offensively without Fowler, who was hitting .270 with six homers, 24 RBIs and a .377 on-base percentage when he got injured. If he's able to play on Saturday, the Astros plan on activating him, even though it would mean he would play in just two games prior to the All-Star break.
"Whenever he's ready to go, we're going to get him back in the lineup," manager Bo Porter said. "If it's one or two games, every game is important. The only reason we decided to put him on the disabled list is we know he wasn't going to be ready in four or five days."
Castro unable to play with pain in left arm
ARLINGTON -- Astros catcher Jason Castro was unable to play Monday after suffering a strange pain in his left armpit area. He said the pain began late Sunday when the team landed in Dallas and the area was still sore Monday.
Castro said he was planning to visit with Rangers team doctors about what he described as a "mystery pain."
"I can't really figure out what's going on," he said. "I've been getting some treatment on it, and it's a little better. It's kind of a day-to-day thing right now. We'll see what's going on and what the actual diagnosis might be."
Castro, who throws with his right arm, admitted the pain was pretty bad both late Sunday and on Monday morning.
"It's kind of strange," he said.
The injury comes at a bad time for Castro, who was hitting .462 (6-for-13) in his last three games after getting moved into the No. 2 spot in the batting order. With Castro out of action, Carlos Corporan started at catcher Monday and super utility rookie Kike Hernandez was ready to step in as backup catcher.
"This guy becomes more valuable by the minute," Porter said.
Crane: Astros closing in on new Spring Training facility
ARLINGTON -- Astros owner Jim Crane said Monday the team is "pretty far down the line" in its plans to finalize a deal to build a new two-team Spring Training facility near the intersection of Haverhill Road and 45th Street in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The Astros have been trying for more than a year to get a new complex built that it would share with another club, and the team has partnered with the Washington Nationals. The Astros' lease in Kissimmee, Fla., expires at the end of 2016, and the Astros would like to begin construction on a new spring site by January.
"Hopefully by the end of the summer, we have something buttoned up," said Crane, while adding the Palm Beach County commissioners and city officials still have to approve the funding. "The sentiment is positive. They want it there."
The Astros had hoped to build a two-team facility to share with the Blue Jays in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., but that plan fell through following stiff opposition from residents. The team has since explored other options in Palm Beach County -- its preferred location -- and even Arizona.