HOUSTON -- Astros general manager Ed Wade said on Thursday that starting shortstop Clint Barmes, who's beginning the year on the disabled list with a broken bone in his left hand, could be back sooner than originally expected.
Barmes, who was expected to miss four to six weeks, was examined recently by team physician Dr. Tom Mehlhoff, who was "cautiously optimistic" that Barmes could return in three to four weeks. He was hit by a pitch on his hand on March 25.
"He was pleased with his grip strength," Wade said. "If he continues to make progress while we're gone, he can see him freed up to grip a bat when we get back. Hopefully, it moves a little bit faster than we had anticipated."
Meanwhile, left-hander J.A. Happ, who left Tuesday's game in Oklahoma City with a strained right oblique, will throw a light bullpen session on Friday in Philadelphia and could still make his scheduled start on Sunday against the Phillies.
"Right now, there's still a possibility for Sunday," said Wade, who said Happ could be pushed back to Tuesday or even next Sunday without causing any upheaval in the rotation.