Valverde could return this weekend

Valverde could return this weekend

HOUSTON -- Although he's champing at the bit to return to his rightful spot in the Astros' bullpen, closer Jose Valverde was deemed unavailable for Thursday's finale with the Dodgers as he continues to heal from a bruised ankle and pulled calf muscle.

Manager Cecil Cooper said he was hopeful Valverde could pitch during the upcoming Brewers series.

"If he's available by the weekend, I'd be happy," Cooper said.

Instead of assuming his normal spot in the outfield during batting practice, Valverde patrolled the area behind the cage, assuring both general manager Ed Wade and assistant athletic trainer Rex Jones, separately, "I think I'll be able to go [Friday.]"

Asked by reporters how much better he was Thursday than the day before, Valverde opened his arm as wide as possible and said, "this much."

Valverde also said the pain had mostly subsided, and the swelling in his calf was down.

"It's a lot better today," he said.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.