HOUSTON -- Lots of little things from today's pre-game scrum with Buck Showalter:

Right fielder Nick Markakis' paternal grandmother passed away Sunday. Markakis drove to Long Island after the Orioles' game and she was pronounced dead about an hour or so later, he said.


He is flying to New York on Wednesday, will miss Wednesday's and Thursday's games, and will re-join the Orioles on Friday in Tampa. Because the bereavement list is for three days only – and not shorter – Showalter said the club will likely play a man short on those two days. If the club needed bullpen help desperately, Showalter said it could potentially put Markakis on the bereavement list and call up a pitcher for three days.

"I'm sure they have good reasons for the bereavement [rule] but you have to take all three days or none at all," Showalter said. "So we'll either play without him all three days or you play two days short. Unless something happens, the bullpen gets blown up or we play 16 innings [Tuesday night] where we need the spot [in the bullpen], the plan right now is we go into tonight and then play short the next two days."

Heading into Tuesday, Markakis was hitting .305 with seven homers and 33 RBIs in 57 games this season.

Injury updates

Reliever Pedro Strop (lower back strain) threw 20 pitches in a simulated game against Steve Pearce and Alexi Casilla on Tuesday in Houston. He felt no pain, felt his pitches were crisp and will fly to Sarasota, Fla., on Wednesday and pitch one inning in an extended spring game on Thursday. If all goes well, he'll join the Orioles on Friday in Tampa and be activated Saturday.

He said he worked on compacting his delivery, which he said has given his pitches more life and does not bother his back.

"Nobody wants to get hurt," Strop said. "But the situation, if you got hurt, don't just sit around, 'Oh I'm hurt.' If you are able to do some stuff and work on the things you need, it's good."

Norfolk right-hander Jair Jurrjens is dealing with a right thumb injury — carpal metacarpal synovitis — in which the joint capsule in his thumb is inflamed. Showalter said Jurrjens could miss a start. He left Sunday's game with the injury after allowing six runs in 2 2/3 innings.

Lefty Wei-Yin Chen (strained oblique) threw 25 times at 60 to 75 feet in the first step of a throwing progression Tuesday. Showalter said Chen felt no pain and will do it again Wednesday.

Designated hitter-infielder Wilson Betemit (right knee) took batting practice in the cage against coaches Tuesday in Sarasota. It's the first time he has done that since suffering the injury in March. There is no set timetable for his return.

Brian Roberts (hamstring) also hit in the cage in Sarasota on Tuesday. There's no set timetable for his return.

Around the horn

Showalter is considering moving Jason Hammel up to Thursday's start in Houston so he can stay on four days of rest after an abbreviated outing — in which he was ejected — on Saturday. Miguel Gonzalez would then pitch Friday in Tampa. … The Astros wore special patches on their uniforms Tuesday and held a moment of silence for the four members of the Houston Fire Department who were killed fighting a recent blaze. Flags were at half mast and a bagbipe version of "Amazing Grace" was played before the game. … Veteran right-hander Jon Rauch has joined Triple-A Norfolk. Catcher Jose Gil was released to make room for Rauch. … Double-A Bowie right-hander Tom Boleska was placed on the voluntary retired list. The Baysox added right-handers Tyler Wilson and Marcel Prado.

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