HOUSTON -- Felipe Paulino knew the rehab process would be a long one when he was shut down with a pinched nerve in his arm during Spring Training, but the right-hander may soon reap the rewards of his hard work.

Paulino threw a second full bullpen session on Monday and is slated to throw a 25-pitch simulated game Wednesday at Minute Maid Park. If that goes well, he'll throw another one Saturday and then head out on a Minor League rehab assignment.

"If everything is positive, then we're going to send him away from here and let him do this thing," manager Cecil Cooper said.

That's music to Paulino's ears.

"I'm so happy, because I'm close to getting in a game," Paulino said. "I'm happy, because it's been a long time since I've faced hitters."

Paulino was in the running for a starting spot during Spring Training before he was injured. While the club still may have plans for him as a starter, Paulino will likely make his rehab appearances as a reliever. The focus is building arm strength, not thrusting Paulino into the Astros' rotation in September.

"He'll probably be pitching two innings here and two innings there," he said. "It won't be starting. You've got to stretch him out quite a bit. You want to get some meaningful innings from him. I would think he'll maybe pitch two innings a day, take a day off, pitch one inning, come back, and two days later, pitch two."

Cooper also expects Paulino to spend quite a bit of time working in the Minor Leagues.

"He's going to have to go for a while," Cooper said. "We're talking about getting some innings and trying to use him in September. It's going to take a while. He can't just go down and throw five innings and come back and be a part of this. He needs to pitch."