HOUSTON — Astros manager Brad Mills has experienced the misfortune of going through a somewhat bizarre carousel of catchers this season.
It all started during Spring Training with the season-ending knee surgery to starter Jason Castro, followed by Humberto Quintero’s high ankle sprain and J.R. Towles’ lingering ankle and lower leg pain.
With the assortment of injuries, the Astros briefly turned to journeyman Robinson Cancel for two games and currently have Carlos Corporan as their primary option behind the plate.
Houston elected to purchase the contract of Brian Esposito following Friday night’s 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay as the result of Towles receiving 11 stitches after being struck in the mask on a foul tip during a third-inning plate appearance by Rays pitcher James Shields.
According to Mills, Corporan and Esposito will serve as the primary options over the next few days, with Towles available to pinch-hit.
“He [Towles] is doing okay,” Mills said. “It’s still going to be a few days before he can put on a mask and get behind home plate. The days off for him will probably heal up some of the other bumps and bruises, as well. At the same time, he’ll be able to pinch-hit.
“Getting behind the plate is a different story for a few days.”
As for Quintero, who’s on the 15-day disabled list due to a high right ankle sprain stemming from a collision at home plate with Arizona third baseman Ryan Roberts on May 28, the Astros hope to get him started on a rehab assignment over the next seven to 10 days.
“Q [Quintero] is feeling much better,” Mills said. “He’s trying to get going. We are hoping we can get a rehab assignment started with him over the next seven or 10 days. We’ll see how it is.
“He was checked out by the doctor today. He said it’s looking better, but there is still some stiffness in making explosive movements. He was doing some drills and getting in some running today.”
The Astros had their backs against the wall Friday night and realized they couldn’t take the field Saturday with only one healthy catching option.
That opened the door for Esposito’s promotion, but at the same time, Houston had to option right-hander Fernando Rodriguez to Triple-A.
Rodriguez went 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA and 20 strikeouts over 13 2/3 innings in 12 relief appearances during a one-month stint with the Astros.
It’s no secret Mills and the Astros think highly of Rodriguez’s performance and consistency, which made the decision even tougher.
“That was not easy at all,” Mills said. We were in a bind and he [Rodriguez] understood it. Hopefully, it can be resolved pretty shortly with Towles getting healthy and behind the plate in a few days. Options and so forth are always key in this type of situation.”
For the latest Astros news, click on the Subscribe button at the top of the page. Also, be sure to follow Houston Astros Examiner Stephen Goff on Facebook and Twitter, or email [email protected].