Astros dealing with short bullpen for time being

Astros dealing with short bullpen for time being

PITTSBURGH -- With relievers David Carpenter and Fernando Abad each having thrown three consecutive days heading into Tuesday's game, Astros manager Brad Mills found himself a little strapped in the bullpen Tuesday with neither was available.

Mills prefers the flexibility of carrying eight relievers, but he currently has seven arms in the bullpen because he's going with a six-man starting rotation until the All-Star break. Houston is currently carrying 12 position players, which is one less than most teams carry.

"What I liked was early in the season when we had a four-man rotation and could utilize the off-days," Mills said. "That way we had the extra reliever in the bullpen, plus we had a full complement of position players on the bench. If I had my druthers, that would be it."

The Astros will have 20 consecutive games without a day off after the All-Star break, which means Mills would like to have the extra bullpen arm. Steady reliever Wilton Lopez is expected to return from a sprained elbow after the break, but whether the Astros stick with the six-man rotation remains to be seen.

"We're going to talk about some things as we move forward, start talking about the rotations and so forth after the break," Mills said.