Albers, Crain progressing slower than expected

Albers, Crain progressing slower than expected

OAKLAND -- The calendar is getting ready to flip to August, and with each growing day it's becoming less likely injured relievers Matt Albers and Jesse Crain will be able to make significant contributions to the team this year, if at all.

Albers, who went on the disabled list with right shoulder tendinitis after only eight outings, and Crain, who's been out all season, are in Houston and don't appear to be close to action. General manager Jeff Luhnow said the hope is that sometime in the next 10 days they'll start throwing on the mound, which would be the first step toward rehab assignments. He said both are making "slow, but deliberate progress."

The Astros signed Albers for $2.25 million and Crain for $3.25 million.

"It's one of those things it's taken so much longer than I, or they, originally anticipated that it's hard to put a specific date on it," Luhnow said. "They are progressing, and neither has had any sort of setback in a while, which is good news, but we're taking it very slow because we really don't think we can afford any more setbacks. It would probably cost us the rest of the season if that occurs."

Crain has recovered from the right biceps surgery he had last October, and his issue now appears to be strength in the back of his shoulder. He hasn't pitched in a big league game in more than a year.

"He had to take some time off from throwing on the mound to strengthen his muscle back there," Luhnow said. "He did that with our rehab guy here in [Houston], who's one of the best in the industry, and he's gotten through that and now he's back out tossing again. We feel good that was the final milestone, and now it's just a matter of getting him in shape again."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.