The Astros finally have their ace back.
Right-hander Scott Feldman, who hasn't pitched since April 17 because of a stint on the 15-day disabled list due to right biceps tendinitis, will return to the rotation on Friday, when the Astros open a three-game series in Baltimore against the Orioles, Feldman's former team.
"It's always important when you get back your Opening Day starter," Astros manager Bo Porter said.
Left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (3-2 with a 4.24 ERA in six starts) will start for the Orioles, who enter the series coming off a three-game sweep of the Rays.
Feldman, signed to a three-year, $30 million deal over the offseason, went 2-1 with a 1.69 ERA in four starts before being injured. He was 1-0 with a 0.44 ERA through three starts but gave up five runs (four earned) on nine hits against the Royals in Houston on April 17.
Feldman said his velocity has been down but his arm felt fine, so he didn't think the velocity was an issue. But his shoulder didn't quite feel right while he played catch in the three days following his start against the Royals, so he knew it wasn't normal soreness.
"The DL is very boring, so hopefully I don't have to go on the DL any time soon and can get back out there and pitch the rest of the year," Feldman said. "I've been throwing, and it feels like all that's cleared up and I'm ready to go."
Feldman played the final four months of last season for the Orioles, who acquired him in a July 2 trade with the Cubs. The right-hander went 5-6 with a 4.27 ERA in 15 games with Baltimore.
"It will be fun to see some of my old buddies over there," Feldman said. "I talk with a few of those guys on a regular basis."
The return trip to Baltimore will also be a homecoming for Astros bench coach Dave Trembley, who managed the Orioles from June 2007 until midway through the '10 season. Trembley returned last year for the first time since he was dismissed in Baltimore, but he still looks forward to seeing old faces in Charm City.
"It will always be special for me because of the opportunities we had there," Trembley said. "I'm looking forward to it. We were treated very respectfully by the people there, and I expect that we'll see a lot of old friends and a lot of people that have been very important to me. I'm really looking forward to it. I had it marked on the schedule."
Chen, meanwhile, has lacked consistency to start the season, alternating quality starts with relatively brief outings in his last five trips to the mound. His last time out, Chen was chased before he could record an out in the sixth inning, having allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits in a loss to the Twins at Target Field.
Astros: Hoes getting on track in time for return
Outfielder L.J. Hoes, who grew up in the Baltimore area and was traded to the Astros from the Orioles last year in the Bud Norris deal, broke out of an 0-for-20 slump in Thursday's 6-2 Astros win over the Tigers by going 3-for-3.
Hoes has been platooning with Alex Presley in left field, and he even leaned on the veteran for some advice during his offensive struggles. Now, he's simply going back to the basics.
"I was trying to do too much," Hoes said. "I just had to realize and understand that I'm here for a reason. Presley's been doing a great job out there, and he told me just go out there and relax and do your job. He said, 'I've been there; I've been in your shoes before. You can't really do too much. That's when you're going to struggle. Just go out there and relax.'"
Hoes grew up in Bowie, Md., as a staunch Orioles fan. He spent his childhood days attending games in Baltimore and cheering on Cal Ripken Jr., Brady Anderson, B.J. Surhoff, Mike Devereaux, Albert Belle and Roberto Alomar. Hoes was traded from the Orioles to the Astros in the middle of a series at Baltimore.
"I can't wait to get back home," Hoes said. "It's going to be good to see my family and some of my friends I have with the Orioles and to get back home and play at home again. I'm kind of excited."
Orioles: Joseph set for home debut
Catcher Caleb Joseph, who was called up from Triple-A Norfolk and made his first start on Wednesday against the Rays in St. Petersburg, will get a chance to play before the home crowd at Camden Yards on Friday.
"I think that's when it will hit me -- when I walk into that clubhouse," Joseph said. "That dugout. I've been to games there, sat in the stands on my off-day. "
Joseph, the 2013 Eastern League Player of the Year, has two homers and 11 RBIs to go along with a .261 average in 22 games for Norfolk this season. He is a 28-year-old rookie who has more than 600 Minor League games under his belt.
• Eight of the Astros' last 11 games have been decided by two runs or fewer. Houston is 6-2 in such games.
• The Astros are 10-9 in games in which they've hit at least one home run and 1-15 in games in which they don't homer.
• Astros rookie George Springer, who hit his first career homer on Thursday in Detroit, enters Friday with an eight-game hitting streak during which he's batted .312.