ANAHEIM -- Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer, who has spent the first month of the season on a Minor League rehab assignment after a blister issue in Spring Training, appears to be close to returning to the Astros starting rotation, perhaps as early as next week.
Oberholtzer, who came to spring camp as the favorite for the fourth spot in the rotation, made his second start at Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday and threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out nine with no walks and four hits. He threw around 75 pitches, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
Sam Deduno made a spot start for the Astros on Wednesday and was rocked for 10 runs and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Oberholtzer could slide into that spot next week against the Giants in Houston. Hinch said Minor League pitchers Dan Straily and Jake Buchanan, as well as Deduno, are also in the mix.
"We'll meet as a staff and talk about what it means," Hinch said. "We have the off-day [Monday] to play with. We're not under large duress to make a decision yet. Given [Oberholtzer] went deep into the game and his pitch total got to the mid-70s, he's certainly an option we're going to talk about."
Even though the Astros are off Monday, Hinch said he'll stick with a five-man rotation and use the extra day to give all of his starters some rest.
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.