KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros left-hander Brett Oberholtzer, who's been slowed by a mild lat strain and then a bout with an illness, returned to the mound Sunday when he threw 35 pitches in the bullpen. The next step for Oberholtzer will be in pitching in a Minor League game on Wednesday.
The setback won't hamper Oberholtzer's ability to be ready for the start of the season because he'll still have enough time to get into a couple of Grapefruit League games. The lefty is penciled in as the club's No. 4 starter.
"As of today, he's still got plenty of time to build his pitch count, build his endurance and make the season," manager A.J. Hinch said.
Oberholtzer held it back a tad on Sunday, throwing at about 80 percent. He was working more on feel and touch than he was spotting up his pitches.
"Everything's falling into place," he said. "To me, I feel great and my energy level is coming back from the sickness. Other than that, I feel good."
Oberholtzer said the lat injury was so minor that he probably wouldn't have said anything had he felt the discomfort during the regular season.
"My arm feels great," he said. "I'm still getting over a little bug. My energy levels are coming back and I feel good just to be out there and doing the normal things again."
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.