Notes: Quintero outrighted

Notes: Quintero outrighted

CHICAGO -- As left-hander Mark McLemore settled into his locker Sunday morning at U.S. Cellular Field, Humberto Quintero was called into manager Phil Garner's office, where the catcher received the news that he was headed for Triple-A Round Rock.

Quintero, whose playing time became practically non-existent when he became the third catcher behind Brad Ausmus and Eric Munson, passed through waivers and was taken off the 40-man roster. He was outrighted to Round Rock, where he'll assume the role as the Express' front-line catcher.

Because the Astros were short-handed in the bullpen, it made little sense to carry a position player who wasn't getting any playing time. Quintero had entered three games as a defensive replacement from May 29-31, but he had not had a plate appearance in more than two weeks.

Garner envisions Munson receiving more starting opportunities in the near future, which leaves Quintero in no-man's land.

"So far, Munson's done a nice job," Garner said. "I want to see him some more, and our pitching is getting into a danger zone right now. We needed to add the extra pitcher. We didn't want to make the move, but unfortuately, that's the one that we have to make."

Garner praised Quintero for his abilities behind the plate, likening him to the defensively-sound Ausmus.

"He kind of matches up with Brad," Garner said. "He's kind of like the mirror image of Brad, without the experience. The reason I wanted to take a look at Munson is because he is left-handed and we were getting good reports that his catching had improved.

"I think 'Q' is a guy who can shut down a running game, there's no question about it. When I compare him to Munson, Munson may give us something offensively that we're missing at the bottom of our order, and that's a threat for home runs. I don't intend to disparage Q on that, because really, he has not had playing time."

Said Quintero: "I can play for 29 more teams. Hopefully, Houston -- that's all I'm going to say."

McLemore, who was called up for a very brief time toward the end of May, was 0-1 with a 3.12 ERA over 16 games, including six starts, for Round Rock. He threw four innings in his most recent outing, on June 5, allowing two earned runs while striking out two.

The left-hander made his big-league debut on May 24 in Arizona, striking out two over one scoreless frame. He was optioned back to Round Rock four days later, when Rick White came off the disabled list.

"I'm a little less intimidated this time than last time," said McLemore, who caught a 6 a.m. flight out of Oklahoma City on Sunday morning. "But when they tell me to go straight from the airport to the park, I still don't know where I'm going."

Hip flexors: Luke Scott and Hunter Pence were both available to play Sunday's finale at U.S. Cellular Field, but neither was in the starting lineup.

Scott probably wouldn't have played anyway, considering the Astros were facing a left-hander. But Pence was held back for precautionary reasons, two days after straining his right hip flexor while running to first base.

"Pence is available," Garner said before Sunday's game. "He's not starting, but he's available today. Luke reports he can probably hit. He's day-to-day. He's a little better today than we thought he would be."

Scott, who suffered a strain in his left groin area, tested his leg during several running drills Sunday morning.

"I stretched it, tried to sprint a little bit," he said. "It's still tight, but it loosened up all right. I'll still do treatments, keep icing."

Pence was insistent that he's ready to play, even though he understands taking the precautionary route is probably in his best interests.

"I'm happy with the way it felt today," he said. "They don't want me to get out there and tweak it again. They know I'm kind of wild. But I know my body. I will be able to play [Monday]; I just need the opportunity."

Good reports: Garner sounded confident that White will be able to return to the bullpen on Saturday, the first day he's eligible to come off the DL.

White has been sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck. The 38-year-old did not travel with the club on this road trip.

"He's feeling good," Garner said. "We feel very comfortable that he's going to be able to come off on time."

Coming up: After three days of games on the south side of Chicago, the Astros will head north, to Wrigley Field, on Monday to play a makeup game with the Cubs. The game, which begins at 7:05 p.m. CT, will feature right-hander Woody Williams (2-8, 5.79) and right-hander Carlos Zambrano (6-5, 5.38).

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