Notes: Patton to get start on Saturday

Notes: Patton to get start on Saturday

HOUSTON -- The Astros were considering many candidates to fill in as a spot starter this weekend, but left-hander Troy Patton won out in the end.

The club announced after Thursday's game that the 21-year-old top prospect will be called up in time to face the Pirates at Minute Maid Park on Saturday. A corresponding roster move will be announced after Friday's game.

"I like his stuff," manager Phil Garner said of Patton, the Astros' ninth-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. "I like his ability to compete. He's got good control, he has good pitches. This is an opportunity for him to come up to the big leagues and get his feet wet."

Patton is 4-2 with a 4.59 ERA over eight starts for Triple-A Round Rock. He was promoted midseason from Double-A Corpus Christi, where he was 6-6 with a 2.99 ERA over 16 starts.

Patton, who turns 22 on Sept. 3, struggled in his two most recent outings, allowing six runs over five innings on Aug. 19 and four runs over six frames on Aug. 14. Prior to those games, however, he threw seven shutout innings on Aug. 8 and allowed two runs over seven frames on Aug. 2.

"We've done a good job of moving him along this summer," Garner said. "He stepped away from Double-A to Triple-A and this is a logical step. It's important that we're careful with him. Young players can compete out there. As long as their heads are right, they can compete. We'll just be careful with him and make sure he stays healthy."

In other pitching news, Roy Oswalt is expected to return to the rotation on Wednesday, after an 11-day layoff due to a strained left oblique muscle.

The right-hander is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Friday and another one Sunday, and is 100 percent sure he will make his next start against the Cardinals on Aug. 29, his 30th birthday.

"I'll be ready," he said.

Slow progress: Adam Everett took batting practice on Thursday, but the shortstop will need significantly more time before the club will consider him ready to return from the disabled list. It's likely Everett is still a week or two from being able to play in the field.

"He's ready to hit, he's just not ready to run," hitting coach Sean Berry said.

Everett has been on the disabled list since mid-June with a fractured fibula bone in his right leg.

Mercy! The Rangers' record-breaking 30-run route of the Orioles was a hot topic in the Astros' clubhouse on Thursday, as was likely the case throughout the big leagues.

"I was stunned," Garner said. "I looked at the board and thought it was a mistake. I guess I noticed it when it was 20 runs. My goodness, that's unbelievable."

Garner recalled a similar situation while managing the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1990s. His club scored 22 runs off the Blue Jays, and apparently did so without even trying that hard.

"Every ball we hit found a hole," Garner said. "I looked over at [Blue Jays manager] Cito Gaston at some point after 18 runs and put my hands up and said, 'We're not trying to embarrass anybody.' We just couldn't make an out. We'd swing at bad pitches and still got base hits. It got somewhat laughable after a while."

Timing: One of the biggest challenges facing a hitter when he returns from an extended stay on the disabled list is getting his timing back. Facing Major League pitching after a month off can be daunting, as Hunter Pence is finding out this week.

Pence returned to the lineup on Tuesday after missing 26 games with a chip fracture in his right wrist. He was 1-for-5 that night and logged a triple in his first at-bat Wednesday, his only hit of the night.

However, Pence made solid contact in his other three at-bats, including two well-hit balls that resulted in flyouts to right field.

"I feel like I'm seeing the ball well," he said. "I feel really good right now. It takes a little while to get your timing back."

Backe nearing return: Brandon Backe's sixth and final rehab outing with the Triple-A Round Rock Express was postponed from Wednesday to Thursday, and then Thursday to Friday, because of two rainouts. Assuming all goes well on Friday, the right-hander will be activated from the disabled list on Sept. 1.

Chris Sampson is also slated to throw one inning on Friday.

Backe's return to the big leagues will arrive one week shy of his one-year anniversary since undergoing Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. Backe had the procedure on Sept. 7, 2006.

Coming up: The Astros' 10-game homestand continues on Friday with the first of three games with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Right-hander Matt Albers (3-6, 6.14) will take the mound for the Astros, who will face Bucs righty Ian Snell (8-10, 3.93).

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