Bass approaching return to Astros' bullpen

Bass approaching return to Astros' bullpen

HOUSTON -- The Astros are on the verge of getting some veteran help for their bullpen. Right-hander Anthony Bass, who's been on the disabled list since May 11 with a right intercostal strain, is set to throw once more in a rehab outing at Class A Quad Cities before being activated.

Bass threw one scoreless and hitless inning on both Tuesday and Thursday without any issues, and general manager Jeff Luhnow said the plan is for him to throw two innings Sunday, following which he could be activated and join the Major League roster.

"At that point, we'll make a decision on whether we want to see more or rather he's ready to come up," Luhnow said. "He's always been a guy who's able to go more than an inning for us, and we've got a lot of one-inning guys right now. We're going to need to need him to go more than an inning, so that two-inning stint is important for us."

Meanwhile, fellow injured veteran relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Albers don't appear to be close to returning. The Astros aren't saying much about the injuries to Albers, who's been out since April 22 with shoulder tendinitis, or Crain, who hasn't pitched in nearly a year -- June 29, 2013 -- because of biceps tendinitis that eventually required surgery.

"Albers is throwing off the mound and feeling better," Luhnow said. "He's further behind [Bass]."

Luhnow said Crain, who has been playing toss, is still working his way back to the point he can face batters.

"He's working as hard as anybody on getting back," Luhnow said. "It's just a matter of one final hurdle in terms of strengthening the particular part of the shoulder, and once we get that back we should be good to go. We don't have an estimate on how long that's going to be, but our medical team and Jesse Crain are working as hard as possible."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.