Role of Astros' closer could go to Lopez

Role of Astros' closer could go to Lopez

Role of Astros' closer could go to Lopez
MILWAUKEE -- The Astros' closer situation remains unsettled, thanks to the ineffectiveness of Francisco Cordero and the heavy workload placed upon Wilton Lopez, who was deemed to be unavailable on Tuesday after feeling tightness in his elbow while throwing during batting practice.

Prior to batting practice, manager Brad Mills said that Lopez deserved a chance to be the closer, though he said he isn't afraid to use him earlier if the situation warranted.

Lopez leads the bullpen with a 2.52 ERA in 40 games.

"I think the way things have gone, he deserves to be given that opportunity," Mills said. "I think we're really not going to name a particular closer as we go forward, but if there comes an opportunity to get some key outs in the seventh, eighth innings, we might use [Lopez] there."

Lopez, who experienced discomfort in his elbow in the past when used often, pitched three games in a row before Tuesday. Still, he was warming up in the bullpen and ready to go into the game.

"He wants the ball and wants in the game," Mills said. "We're still trying to monitor him a little bit, but we don't want to abuse him too much because of the arm problems he's had before."

Lopez missed 26 games in June and early July with a sprained elbow.