Harrell, Bedard ready to return to game action

Harrell, Bedard ready to return to game action

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Right-hander Lucas Harrell and lefty Erik Bedard will both be back on the mound this weekend.

Harrell, the Astros' pitcher of the year in 2012, will start Saturday's 5:05 p.m. CT game against the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla. Harrell threw a bullpen session Wednesday and felt fine after skipping his turn in the rotation Sunday due to a groin injury.

Manager Bo Porter said Friday the Astros will monitor Harrell on an inning-by-inning basis, checking his pitch count and evaluating how he feels before deciding whether to send him back to the mound. Porter admitted Harrell, a candidate to be Houston's Opening Day starter, was "set back a little bit" by the injury.

"He's had some good side sessions, but at the same time, he missed a turn," Porter said. "So we will lean on the side of being careful as he takes the mound tomorrow."

Harrell went 11-11 with a 3.76 ERA in 32 starts last season and has given up three runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts and two walks in nine innings this spring.

Bedard, who threw a shutout inning against the Nationals on Wednesday, will pitch in relief Sunday against the Blue Jays at Osceola County Stadium. Bedard had been sidelined by a strained gluteal muscle.

Bedard has thrown three innings in two Grapefruit League appearances, allowing one unearned run on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.