Sampson tweaks his back. Backe has one more start.
Manager Cecil Cooper was leaning toward giving Chris Sampson a night off Tuesday in an effort to give him two full days following a “stressful” outing in Chicago over the weekend. But after tweaking his back while playing with his son on the offday, Sampson may have no choice but to sit out the opener with the Brewers.
Sampson was sitting on the floor at his home and while playfully grabbing his two-year-old son, C.J., he felt a pain in his back.
“I went to grab [C.J.] while he was running by, and I kind of tweaked my lower back,” Sampson said an hour before Tuesday’s game. “It’s loosening up a little bit. I’m just going to treat it all day today and keep some heat on it, see if it won’t loosen up enough to possibly pitch tonight. If not tonight, then should be ready to go tomorrow. It’s not serious.
The back issue has nothing to do with the hip problem he experienced a couple of weeks ago.
Brandon Backe is scheduled to complete what could possibly be the longest rehab assignment in history when he takes the mound for a seventh time in a Minor League game on Saturday. For Double-A Corpus Monday, Backe threw eight shutout innings,
allowing five hits and one walk while striking out five. He threw 98 pitches, 74 for strikes.
If he’s deemed ready to rejoin the team next week, the Astros will have some decisions to make. Does Backe go into the rotation, and if he does, who leaves? Felipe Paulino? And if that is the case, does Paulino go to the Minor Leagues, or does he rejoin the bullpen?
“I’m sure we’ll have discussions what to do,” Cooper said. “It’s a good problem to have.”