Castro eyes return from right quad strain

'He's made tremendous progress,' Hinch says of Astros catcher

Castro eyes return from right quad strain

ANAHEIM -- Astros catcher Jason Castro joined the team at Angel Stadium on Friday and caught Scott Kazmir's bullpen session and took early batting practice, moving a step closer to getting activated from the disabled list. He's been out since Aug. 29 with a right quad strain.

Castro, who didn't travel with the team to Oakland so he could rehab in Houston, could be activated as early as Sunday, but he still needs to run at full speed and do more catching agility drills before he's cleared.

"I think I'll be ready in a kind-of limited role, but it depends on how rehab's been going and how it continues to progress," Castro said. "Everything to this point has been good. With all the new stuff we've been introducing and increasing the intensity, it hasn't gotten sore at all and getting better every day. As long as it stays in that path, I think it will not be too much longer."

Astros manager A.J. Hinch was impressed seeing Castro swing the bat during batting practice and how he performed doing catching drills at about 75 percent intensity.

"I was very excited with where he was at, based on where we left him at the start of the trip," he said. "We hope to activate him at some point during this trip, but he hasn't quite cleared every hurdle yet. He's made tremendous progress."

The next step for Castro is testing the leg while blocking pitches.

"It's really just about getting back there and seeing pitches again and just getting that confidence back," he said. "I felt really good with what I've done so far and we'll continue to keep increasing the work."

Left-hander Tony Sipp, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 26 because of a back issue, also rejoined the club Friday and was available to pitch.

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