Mild left lat strain sidelines Oberholtzer

Astros lefty can play catch, but club is keeping him off a mound

Mild left lat strain sidelines Oberholtzer

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros starting pitcher Brett Oberholtzer could be out of game action for a week while he deals with a mild left lat strain, manager A.J. Hinch said Sunday.

Oberholtzer, the favorite for the No. 4 spot in the rotation, was scheduled to throw in a Minor League game on the back fields at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday, but the left-hander was scratched. He's still able to do most of his daily routine, with the exception of throwing off the mound.

"He's still playing catch, still doing all the drills and everything, but we're going to hold him out of the back-field game until he gets further evaluated next week," Hinch said.

Oberholtzer said he suffered the strain while making a pickoff attempt at second base last week.

"I continued to throw and felt good, but I just wanted to make sure and get things cleared up early in camp," he said. "So I went in and got an MRI. It's just a little tightness, nothing to worry about. I'm still on my throwing program, but just taking a little break off the mound for a week or so."

Hinch said there's no reason to believe Oberholtzer's lat strain is as severe as the ones suffered recently by pitchers Asher Wojciechowski and Vincent Velasquez. Wojciechowski missed all of last spring after he strained his lat early in camp, and Velasquez recently started a throwing program after suffering a lat strain in October.

"This is mild from what we know, but again, we have to keep evaluating him," Hinch said. "We're at a time in camp where we want to make sure these guys are feeling good as they get extended into their outings. We'll lose a few days with Brett right now and then we'll reconvene after the split squads [Monday] and into the off-day [Wednesday] and re-evaluate him.

Oberholtzer, 25, pretty much has a spot in the rotation locked up. He made 24 starts in four stints with the Astros last year, going 5-13 with a 4.39 ERA. He pitched well later in the season with Houston, going 5-7 with a 3.92 ERA in his last 17 starts (May 24-Sept. 23).

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com 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.