Backe said he isn't worried about any long-term effects, considering doctors expected the right-hander to be experiencing this type of soreness during Spring Training. But Backe made it through that stretch without any problems, and he's had very few issues, if any at all, throughout the entire rehab process, which began last September following Tommy John surgery.
"I made it this far without having anything, and what I was supposed to have, what they thought I was going to have in Spring Training, is happening now," Backe said. "Which is I guess a good thing, because I made it this far and it's something that everybody goes through."
Backe was so ahead of scheduled that it looked as if he could possibly return soon after the All-Star break. August appears to be a more realistic target, although his recent setback will delay that by a few days or possible a week.
"If I was slated Aug. 1 a week ago, it'll be three, four five days later," Backe said. "There's no set date. All I know is I'm pretty close to going out to throwing in the Minor Leagues, and I'll be well on my way to the team sometime after the All-Star break.
"Whether it's right after the All-Star break or well after, I'm not sure."
Jennings encouraged: Jason Jennings pitched well in his first rehab start Thursday in Corpus Christi, and assuming his second outing Tuesday in Round Rock also goes off without a hitch, the right-hander will be activated from the disabled list in time to open the Astros' next homestand on May 29.
Jennings could pitch on May 27 in Arizona, but since that is Roy Oswalt's day to start, Jennings will slide in behind him and rejoin the rotation after the off-day on the 28th. Matt Albers, who was purposely switched with Chris Sampson in order to get in line with Jennings' schedule, will likely be optioned to Triple-A at that time.
Although Jennings didn't throw as many pitches in Corpus as he thought he would, he was just happy to be in a live game where he could get a true feel for how far he's progressed.
"There weren't any doubts," he said. "I didn't hold anything back. I wanted to get an accurate feel for where I was. It didn't feel great, just because I haven't thrown in so long.
"The most important thing was I was able to come in and sit down and go back out five different times. Usually, the issue for me is coming in and it tightening back up. The pitch count, it wasn't that big a deal that it wasn't up high. The important thing was that I went five innings."
Two more hits: Craig Biggio singled in the sixth inning Friday to end an 0-for-16 streak, and his double in the eighth marked career hit 2,968, leaving him 32 short of 3,000. The double was also the 650th of Biggio's career.
"It was better than last night, that's for sure," Biggio said, referring to his four strikeouts in the series finale with the Giants. "The road to success is always under construction -- that's what Papa Jack (Triple-A hitting coach Ron Jackson) told me in Spring Training. I thought that was pretty good advice."
Biggio is hitting .227 in May, after hitting .250 in April.
"It's a constant battle; it's amazing," he said. "As quickly as you get it, just as quickly, you can lose it, as far as your swing is concerned. That's why it's a constant battle and guys hit in the cage. It was nice to get a couple hits tonight."
Batter up: The Third Annual Houston Astros versus Texas Rangers Wives Diamond Boot Series Charity Softball Game will take place in a pregame event at Minute Maid Park on Sunday, May 20 at 11 a.m. CT.
Cara Berkman, Patty Biggio, Christi Ensberg, Nicole Oswalt, and several other Astros wives will attempt their first win in the Diamond Boot Series after losses in 2005 and 2006. The wives of the Astros and Rangers players will also be selling Diamond Boot Series T-shirts and raffling off jerseys signed by their husbands.
The Diamond Boot Series is sponsored by Tiffany & Co., Academy Sports & Outdoors and The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Proton Therapy Center. Proceeds from the wives softball game will benefit the Spina Bifida Association of America and The Beaumont Hospital of Detroit's Nerve Rerouting Project.
Coming up: The Astros and Rangers will meet again Saturday at Minute Maid Park, beginning at 6:05 p.m. CT. Lefty Wandy Rodriguez (1-3, 4.33) will face left-hander John Koronka (0-0, 0.00).