HOUSTON -- With Francisco Cordero unavailable after throwing 57 pitches on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Astros will probably look to right-hander Wilton Lopez to close the ninth inning if they have the lead on Thursday.
"That would probably be our first choice if we can get there without him," manager Brad Mills said. "We might have to use him to get there."
Cordero blew saves in Tuesday and Wednesday games against the Reds, giving up three runs in each outing. Mills said the team has been evaluating the closer situation in the last 12 hours, but if an official change is made, the pitchers involved will be told about that move on Friday afternoon.
Reliever usage on Thursday will definitely play a role in any decision.
"Tonight's going to be an interesting night to see how we do that," Mills said.
If the Astros use Lopez before the ninth and have a lead going into the ninth, Mills said the team will try to play the matchups. The manager noted that left-hander Wesley Wright could be an option in the ninth because he's had success against the Pirates' middle of the lineup.
Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee -- the Pirates' second, third, fourth and fifth hitters on Thursday -- are a combined 1-for-15 against Wright.
"We're going to do everything we can to get there with a lead, and then we'll go from there," Mills said.
Castro continues to progress in knee rehab
HOUSTON -- Astros catcher Jason Castro, out since July 8 with a right knee injury, said Thursday that his rehabilitation continues to progress well. Assuming the rehab remains smooth, Castro will start looking at returning to the lineup in a week or so.
"I'm kind of just being cautious with where I'm at right now," Castro said. "I think I'm probably capable of some full weight squats right now but we're just trying to make sure we're doing everything right to come back and stay back. It's been feeling really good."
Castro, eligible to come off the disabled list whenever he is ready, has been working with a physical therapist in Houston. He took batting practice on Thursday and said he will start catching some bullpen sessions in the next couple days.
"As far as everything has gone right now, I'm real happy with that," Castro said.
Castro and his trainers have been taking the rehabilitation easy in order to keep the swelling out of the knee after Castro had it drained on July 18.
Norris, Wright now longest-tenured Astros
HOUSTON -- The trade of Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates earlier this week not only meant the Astros no longer had any players who participated in the 2005 World Series, but it also meant pitchers Bud Norris and Wesley Wright became the longest-tenured Astros players.
Wright was a Rule 5 pick who made his debut for the Astros on March 31, 2008, though he has split time between Houston and the Minor Leagues. Norris made his debut with the Astros on July 29, 2009. He's 26-32 in his career in 87 games (86 starts).
"It's surreal, almost," Norris said. "I've only been here three years and I've seen a lot in three years. It's tough to see Wandy go because he's been an anchor for us since the World Series. We learned a lot from him and what he taught us, and I'm just trying to pass what I know to these guys and they're trying to help me, too."
Norris doesn't fashion himself as too much of a vocal leader, though he said sometimes he understands he has to play that role.
"Anything I can do to help anybody out, I try," he said. "Whether it helps them or not, I'm going to give my thoughts and hopefully it does help. I'm not trying to look at it any differently but I'm going to go out there and pitch every fifth day and give them everything I've got. We've got to work together and learn together."
Wandy feeling many emotions this weekend
HOUSTON -- With his familiar gait and No. 51, pitcher Wandy Rodriguez donned Pirates black and gold Thursday at Minute Maid Park for the first time after being traded to Pittsburgh from the Astros on Tuesday. Rodriguez will pitch for the Pirates on Saturday in Houston.
"It's a hard situation for me," Rodriguez said. "I played for a long time for the Astros organization and now I'm with the Pirates. I understand the situation the for the Astros. They traded me and now I'm here."
Rodriguez stayed in Houston after being traded and drove to Minute Maid Park on Thursday. He stopped by the Astros clubhouse briefly to collect some belongings from equipment manager Carl Schneider before heading to the visitor's clubhouse for the first time.
"I felt pretty confused," he said with a laugh.
As far as facing his former teammates on Saturday, Rodriguez wasn't sure what emotions he will carry to the mound.
"I need to wait until that because I don't know how I'll feel," he said.
Astros manager Brad Mills is interested to see how his club does against Rodriguez.
"I'm sure his emotions are going to be pretty high, as are ours as well going against him," he said.
Brian McTaggart is reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. Clark Goble is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.