MLB gets ready for 2012 All-Star Game

SAN FRANCISCO -- Astros bench coach Joe Pettini has been chosen by National League All-Star manager Tony La Russa to serve as the bench coach for the NL at the 83rd All-Star Game, which is scheduled for July 10 in Kansas City.

La Russa, who retired after leading the Cardinals to the World Series title last year, invited his entire Cardinals coaching staff to join him in Kansas City -- Dave Duncan (pitching), Derek Lilliquist (bullpen), Mark McGwire (hitting), Dave McKay (first-base coach, currently with the Chicago Cubs) and Jose Oquendo (third-base coach).

"He called last winter and let us all know that he accepted to manage the All-Star Game this year and gave us word of warning that we were going to be invited and gave us time to think about it," Pettini said. "The All-Star Game is such a great event, and Major League Baseball does such a great job with it. Talking to my wife, she said, 'If that's Tony's last game, I know you want to be there.' He's meant too much to me over the last 15 years, all the years in St. Louis; I wouldn't miss it for the world."

La Russa also named Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and Mets manager Terry Collins as his NL coaches. Collins was an NL coach while manager of the Astros in 1995 under NL manager Felipe Alou at the All-Star Game in Arlington.

Pettini said he hopes La Russa gives him a chance to vouch for some of the Astros' deserving players.

"I certainly hope if he has to pick a player or two from here, I hope he does call," he said. "That way, I can get everyone's input from the staff and hopefully take one or two guys with me."

Astros planning in case Norris can't start

SAN FRANCISCO -- Astros manager Brad Mills was pleased with how right-handed pitcher Bud Norris was feeling Wednesday -- one day after he sprained his left knee against the Giants -- but he's already discussed contingency plans with general manager Jeff Luhnow in case Norris can't go Sunday.

"He came in sore, but he was able to get through his leg workout and his conditioning and he rode the bike and everything," Mills said.

The Astros were going to evaluate Norris further after he threw on the field prior to Wednesday's game, but Mills said it's too early to tell if Norris will make his next start. The Astros don't have a starting pitcher listed for Sunday's game in Arlington against the Rangers.

"Jeff and I went through two or three [alternatives] if ultimately that's what we go about doing," Mills said. "We're going to wait and see how it goes and how he progresses in the next couple of days."

Norris was removed from Tuesday's game after 3 1/3 innings after chasing down a popup in foul territory. He believes he injured the knee fielding a grounder in the first inning and making an out at first base.

Double-A rehab slated to keep Lee close

SAN FRANCISCO -- With the Astros headed to Arlington this weekend to play the Rangers and Houston's Double-A Corpus Christi affiliate beginning a four-game series at Frisco, first baseman Carlos Lee may not have to stray far for his Minor League rehab.

Astros manager Brad Mills said Wednesday that Lee would likely head to Texas on Thursday to join the Hooks on either Thursday night or Friday. By playing in Frisco, which is a suburb of Dallas, Lee would be able to stay in the team hotel and perhaps be available to be activated as early as Sunday if all goes well.

"If he runs today and feels good, we'll send him out to start rehabbing for two or three days and see how he feels and go from there," Mills said.

Lee, who's been on the disabled list since June 2 with a left hamstring strain, could still rehab with Triple-A Oklahoma City, which is at Round Rock this weekend.

"We've got some options; we're still trying to see how we're going to do this," Mills said.