Astros southpaw Framber Valdez hasn’t pitched in the majors this season on account of a broken finger, though he did return to throwing from flat ground Thursday, per Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle. While general manager James Click called Thursday’s session a “tremendous step forward” for Valdez, there still isn’t a clear timetable for a potential 2021 debut. Valdez broke out last season with 70 2/3 innings of 3.57 ERA/3.23 SIERA ball, an elite 60 percent groundball rate, and terrific strikeout and walk percentages of 26.4 and 5.6, respectively.

More injury-related items from Houston and a couple of other American League teams…

  • Angels right-handed reliever Luke Bard will undergo season-ending hip surgery, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic was among those to report. He’ll need six to eight months to recover from the procedure. Bard was already set to miss a significant amount of time this season, as the Angels sent him to the 60-day injured list shortly before the campaign began. Although the 30-year-old’s high spin rate has made him a potential breakout candidate since he debuted with the Angels in 2018, he has only managed a 5.05 ERA through 66 innings – including 5 1/3 frames in 2020.
  • The Blue Jays hope lefty Robbie Ray will return to the rotation this week, according to Gregor Chisholm of the Toronto Star (via Twitter). The southpaw threw 63 pitches in a simulated game yesterday. The last hurdle to clear is just seeing how he feels over the next couple of days.
  • The Athletics placed infielder/outfielder Chad Pinder on the IL because of a left knee sprain, but it appears he’ll sit out for a lot longer than the 10-day minimum. Pinder is is week to week and not participating in any baseball activities, per Martin Gallegos of MLB.com. The 29-year-old opened the season as one of the Athletics’ main outfielders before going down, and they’ve since used Ka’ai Tom, Stephen Piscotty, Tony Kemp and Seth Brown in the corners to help fill the void.
  • Astros reliever Enoli Paredes left their game Thursday with a trainer, Rome tweets. The righty exited after throwing just three strikes out of 13 pitches and walking the only two batters he faced. Control has been a problem in all three appearances this year for Paredes, who has walked six hitters in 1 1/3 innings. Paredes also put up a below-average walk rate of 12.2 percent in his rookie year in 2020, but he still notched a 3.05 ERA (with a much less inspiring 4.63 SIERA) over 20 2/3 frames. [UPDATE: Paredes “did something to his side,” manager Dusty Baker said (via Rome). The Astros should know more Friday.]