CINCINNATI -- Houston Astros closer Jose Valverde reached down and pressed his right thumb against the side of his right shin. The tip of the thumb made an indentation that stayed long after he pulled his hand away.
His lower leg was so swollen on Monday that the Astros had to consider another plan to close games.
Valverde expects to be out for a few more days and could be headed for the disabled list because of the calf injury, which he suffered last week. He had a pronounced limp as he walked slowly around the clubhouse before the opening game of a series against the Cincinnati Reds.
"I'll take a couple more days," he said. "I can't do anything right now."
Valverde was hit near his right ankle by Orlando Hudson's grounder during an 8-5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday. He strained his right calf while chasing the ball after it bounced off his leg. Valverde stayed in the game and got the last two outs for his first save but had to take a few days off.
He returned Sunday and pitched the ninth inning of a 3-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers but said afterward that he felt tenderness in the calf. It was worse a day later.
"We'll give him a couple of days," manager Cecil Cooper said. "That's what he needs. He's a guy that we need. We can't have him limping around and going through the next two or three weeks like this. So, whatever it takes."
Valverde has two saves in four chances this season. He had 44 saves in a career-high 74 appearances for the Astros last season.
LaTroy Hawkins has two saves in three chances this season and could fill the role while Valverde is out. Cooper said he'll decide which reliever closes a game based upon how they match up with the batters due up.
Asked if Valverde will end up on the disabled list, Cooper said, "We'll have to wait and see how he goes in the next day or so."