HOUSTON -- For the first time since he went on the disabled list on June 21 with right shoulder tendinitis, starting pitcher Felipe Paulino faced hitters on Thursday. The big right-hander threw live batting practice at Minute Maid Park prior to the game against the Pirates, tossing 30 pitches.
"I was a little rusty, but it was the first day," Paulino said. "It's a good step, and I have to try to get ready for the next one. I was a little wild on my pitches, but my fastball command was great."
Paulino, if all goes well, would start the fifth game after the All-Star break on July 20 in Chicago. He said he's scheduled to pitch a simulated game on Monday. He's got a 4.40 ERA in 14 starts, but has a 1-8 record because of the worst run support in the league.
Astros general manager Ed Wade said giving Paulino the extra time at the All-Star break is a blessing in disguise, considering he's thrown 86 innings and was on pace to shatter his career high in innings pitched as a professional.
"At some point, we're going to reach a threshold where it's going to be difficult for him to build up innings beyond that threshold," Wade said. "Maybe buying some time right now gets him through the entire season. It's sort of two-pronged: make sure he's healthy, but also give him a chance to take a start or two off and have the innings build up on the back end."