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Lyon inching closer to game action

Lyon inching closer to game action

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Possible closer Brandon Lyon pitched in a controlled Minor League game in one of the backfields of Osceola County Stadium on Tuesday in hopes of inching closer to getting into a real game while recovering from a beleaguered right shoulder.

Barring a setback when he arrives at the Astros' spring complex Wednesday, Lyon will make his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday against the Tigers at 12:05 p.m. CT on MLB.TV in Lakeland, Fla.

"I'm definitely excited," Lyon said. "I'm to the point -- mentally and physically -- [where I] feel like I'm ready to do it. I'm definitely excited to get out there and be out there. As long as I come in here with no problems tomorrow, I'll be ready to go Thursday."

Lyon, who had a cyst drained in his right shoulder in January, recorded five outs while throwing 21 pitches and said it went well -- besides a double he gave up to Astros prospect Koby Clemens, who is Roger Clemens' son.

"He threw the ball very well," Astros pitching coach Brad Arnsberg said. "His pitches were moving left to right and right to left. His hook was good. His changeup was good. He looked solid.

"I'm really excited by what I saw. I think he's real close."

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Lyon, who threw 25 pitches to hitters on Sunday, went 6-5 with a 2.86 ERA as a setup man to Fernando Rodney with the Tigers in 2009. The 30-year-old had 26 saves in '08 and is in competition with hard-throwing right-hander Matt Lindstrom for the closer's role.

Lyon has been encouraged by his progress over the past few weeks and said being ready by Opening Day is still the expectation.

"Yeah, I think so," he said when asked if the three weeks remaining in Spring Training is enough time to be ready by April 5. "From where I came just in the last two weeks, when I told you I wouldn't be at this point right now, things are going [swiftly] and going a little bit faster than they were, and I'm just excited to get back out there -- get that adrenaline going again."

In other injury news, right-hander Alberto Arias, who's suffering from shoulder inflammation, threw a bullpen session. Also, Astros manager Brad Mills said right-hander Yorman Bazardo, who left Saturday's game with a shoulder issue, will start a throwing program.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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