Notes: Saito throws on flat ground

Notes: Saito throws on flat ground

HOUSTON -- Closer Takashi Saito played catch on flat ground four and a half hours before Tuesday night's game and reported no recurrence of the shoulder blade irritation that sidelined him for a sixth game.

Saito said he would try to throw off a mound for the first time Wednesday. He offered no guess as to when he would be ready to pitch in a game, but manager Grady Little said he believed it would be sooner rather than later.

"I feel pretty optimistic it will be tomorrow, or Thursday," said Little, who watched Saito's workout with trainer Stan Conte.

Saito said he was apprehensive about playing catch, but, now that he passed that test, needs to get back into the routine of pitching.

"I haven't thrown for five days," Saito said. "I can't go right away. Tomorrow is more of a test off the mound to get reacquainted with it. It's difficult to predict how I'm going to feel, so I'm not committing to an answer."

Saito said he believed his recent improvement was the result of an injection received Monday, but was still uncertain how his body will feel with continued throwing.

Saito had similar problems in Japan, which led to a transition from starting to relieving.

Gonzo on Biggio: Seated in the back of Craig Biggio's retirement announcement Tuesday was a former teammate pondering how his career will someday end.

"I sat there hearing him talk about what's next in his life and spending time with his family, and I was thinking the same things," said Luis Gonzalez, who was an Astros rookie in 1991, Biggio's third year in the big leagues.

"Three years ago they wanted to get rid of him, but he found a way to keep grinding it out. He just got his 3,000th hit. I'd like to be home with my family, too. But they know what it means to me to get 3,000 hits."

Gonzalez is 531 hits short. Although he's 39, he's not playing like it. He's batting .293 with 11 homers and 47 RBIs. Gonzalez noted that the Astros club of 1991, when he was first called up, had four members who played until they were 40 or are about to -- Biggio, Steve Finley, Curt Schilling and himself.

Martin on Biggio: Biggio broke in as a basestealing catcher, which is why Russell Martin sometimes is compared to him. Biggio was moved to second base to better utilize his running speed, although he wasn't considered in the same defensive class as Martin behind the plate.

Martin originally was a third baseman and he's not expecting a return to the infield any time soon.

"I know they did it on occasion with [Paul] Lo Duca [at first base], to give him a break from catching but keep his bat in the lineup," said Martin. "That would be a nice break for a catcher. Personally, I always wanted to play shortstop. I'm not sure what it would be like to move back to third base. It's been a while. I'm sure I could do it, but I'd need some time to work out the timing of moving for grounders to the side. It's the game speed that you wonder about. I guess you'd just have to throw me out there to find out."

Wolf pitches Wednesday: Injured left-hander Randy Wolf is scheduled to make a Minor League rehabilitation start Wednesday for Class A Inland Empire. Wolf, on the disabled list since July 4 with a shoulder impingement, is expected to throw about 60 pitches. He likely will make a second Minor League start next week before he is activated.

Complete Billing: With his complete-game win Monday night, Chad Billingsley became the first Dodger to start the season 7-0 since Matt Herges in 2000 (8-0). In the last 25 years, just five Dodgers pitchers have accomplished this feat -- Herges, Antonio Osuna (1998), Burt Hooton (1981), Fernando Valenzuela (1981) and Billingsley. The right-hander also equaled Brad Penny for the Dodgers' longest winning streak this season and has now won nine straight decisions dating back to Sept. 21, 2006.

Dinner with Nomar: Nomar Garciaparra will again host fans for Carne Asada Sunday, Aug. 5, after the Dodgers play the Arizona Diamondbacks. This event is part of Garciaparra's continued effort to give back to the community in which he was raised and in celebration of his Mexican-American heritage. The event, which is presented by Cacique, will include a live mariachi band from Guadalajara Grill of Baldwin Park, food and beverages, and each attendee will receive an autographed photo.

The first Carne Asada Sunday with Nomar Garciaparra held on June 10 sold out almost immediately after it was announced. Tickets to Carne Asada Sunday are on sale now for a $50 donation to the Dodgers Dream Foundation or can be purchased along with a Loge level game ticket for $60. Fans can secure their spot by contacting the community affairs department at (323) 224-1435. Fans must have an Aug. 5 game ticket and purchase a Carne Asada Sunday event ticket to attend this event. Seating is limited to 250 spots.

Coming up: Derek Lowe (8-9, 3.51 ERA) opposes Matt Albers (2-4, 5.76) in Wednesday night's series finale.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.