ARLINGTON -- J.R. Towles is nearly ready to return to his role as the Astros' starting catcher after a catching a bullpen session on Wednesday. Manager Brad Mills said Towles should be ready to return on Friday when the Astros host the Rays. "He can go if he has to," Mills said before Wednesday's finale with the Rangers. "That's been the same way the last four or five days."
Towles entered Wednesday to catch in the top of the ninth inning after Angel Sanchez pinch-hit for Carlos Corporan in the bottom of the eighth. Towles' leg soreness had kept him out since June 15.
Corporan had caught the last six games while Towles has been out. The Astros haven't had the benefit of an off-day since losing Towles, and that six-day span included Tuesday night's 11-inning loss against the Rangers."[Corporan] got a little worn down, 11 innings on that heat," Mills said on Wednesday. "He came in today and was feeling really good." Mills said it eases his mind to know Towles is ready if Corporan needs a breather. For now, he's making sure Corporan is as fresh as possible. "We're going to have him not really do anything on the field pregame, trying to keep him out of the heat as much as possible and go from there," Mills said before Wednesday's series finale with the Rangers.