Notes: Berkman out again

Notes: Berkman out again

HOUSTON -- No one is putting a timetable on Lance Berkman's return to the field, but it's unlikely he'll start any of the games against the Diamondbacks this weekend. Pinch-hitting may be an option on Saturday and Sunday, depending on his progress.

On Thursday, Berkman aggravated the left groin strain that kept him out of commission for one game earlier in the week, and this time, he may need a few more days to recover.

"I don't think it's going to be a week," Berkman said. "I think you're talking about a matter of days. Day-to-day, probably. It's hard to say. The last time it happened, we had that Monday off and Tuesday, when I came to the park, it was significantly better. I'm hoping we get the same results this time around."

Berkman tweaked the groin strain running to first in his final at-bat on Thursday and was replaced by a pinch-runner. He has no intentions of dragging this injury out long enough to turn it into a disabled list situation, which is probably a good thing, considering he's the only consistent hitter the Astros have these days.

"I'm not going to say I'm going to give it two weeks just to make sure it's healthy," he said. "As soon as I feel like I can be out there, I'm going to be out there. If it happens again, it happens again."

Try the cutter: It's undeniable that Brad Lidge is having his share of struggles this year, and on Friday he gave some insight as to what he's doing to try to right the ship.

Lidge is experimenting with a cut fastball, a project he took on during Spring Training but hasn't pursued in earnest until recently. His struggles, especially against left-handers, has prompted him to try to mix things up a bit.

Entering Friday's game, left-handers were hitting .413 against Lidge, whose ERA is 4.95 in such situations. He understands these numbers are not acceptable, and he's hoping he can find some success with the cutter in an effort to offset his problems.

The decison to try out the cutter stemmed from his performance against the Reds on Wednesday. After allowing a hit, hitting a batter, throwing a wild pitch and striking out the next hitter, manager Phil Garner called upon left-hander Trever Miller to face the left-handed hitting Ken Griffey Jr.

"If I would have stayed out there [Wednesday night] closing, then I wouldn't have worked on [the cutter]," Lidge said. "But I realize I'm not getting left-handed hitters out as well as I should be. There's no doubt. The stats don't lie. That's a fact. I'm trying to come up with something."

He mixed in the cutter with his usual fastball-slider routine in the ninth inning on Thursday, with poor results. Lidge vowed to continue to look for answers as to why he's not having the same success he enjoyed in '04 and '05.

"I know I'm struggling," he said. "I know I'm not throwing the ball well. I'm trying to do everything I can to right the ship."

Elston night: The Astros will honor former broadcaster Gene Elston on Saturday, Aug. 12, during a pregame ceremony before the Astros game with the San Diego Padres.

Elston is the 2006 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually by the National Baseball Hall of Fame for major contributions to baseball broadcasting. He will receive the award Sunday during Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The first 10,000 fans entering Sunday's 1:05 p.m. CT Astros-Diamondbacks game at Minute Maid Park will receive a Gene Elston commemorative pin.

The pregame ceremony honoring Elston will take place on the field and include a video tribute. Two plaques will also be unveiled over the Astros' radio broadcast booth, honoring Elston and 1992 Frick Award recipient and current Astros broadcaster Milo Hamilton.

Odds and ends: Berkman, in conjunction with The Methodist Hospital System, will be hosting "Berkman's Bunch" on Saturday, prior to the Astros 6:05 p.m. CT game vs. the Diamondbacks. Berkman will meet with more than 50 children from the Wesley Community Center and the Baytown YMCA, sign autographs, and provide them with gifts and tickets to the game. The Berkman's Bunch program, currently in its sixth year, allows children from the Houston area to meet Berkman and attend a baseball game at Minute Maid Park. Before every Saturday home game during the summer, Berkman greets 50 underprivileged children and welcomes them with autographs and gifts. ...Brad Ausmus appeared in his 1,000th game as an Astro on Friday, becoming the first catcher in franchise history to reach that plateau.

Coming up: The Astros and Diamondbacks continue the three-game weekend set on Saturday, beginning at 6:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Roy Oswalt (7-7, 3.35) will face D-backs righty Juan Cruz (3-5, 4.95).

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