Astros catcher Jason Castro unlikely to return this season

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Astros catcher Jason Castro was supposed to open the 2011 season as the team’s primary backstop, but he suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee early in spring training and has been rehabbing ever since.

That rehab is likely to continue into October.

According to Stephen Goff of the Astros Examiner, the 24-year-old is beginning to make noticeable progress but acknowledged to reporters Saturday that he might be running out of time.

Castro was the 10th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft and climbed his way to the big leagues in 2010. He posted a weak .205/.286/.287 batting line, two home runs and eight RBI in 67 games as a rookie, but the future should be a little brighter.

Castro is fully expecting to be in game shape by the start of spring training next February.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.