Sox loaded with quality relievers
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Chicago White Sox pitcher Jesse Crain throws during baseball spring training in Phoenix, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Get ready for the regular season and avoid injuries.
Those are the two main goals for every major-league team in spring training, so there had to be some concern in the White Sox' camp on Monday when veteran relief pitcher Jesse Crain was sidelined with a strained right adductor.
Crain, who had to pull himself off Team Canada's World Baseball Classic roster due to the injury, doesn't expect to be down for long.
"The right thing to do is if I'm not right and can't pitch, then I can't push myself to try to get there for the WBC," Crain told reporters in Glendale, Ariz. "The more important thing is the season and the White Sox. I'm going to get myself healthy."
Crain said he's hoping to throw by the end of the week, but there is reason for the Sox to be worried.
A key setup man in the bullpen, the 31-year-old Crain strained his right oblique last spring and was sidelined for more than a week.
During the regular season, Crain twice landed on the disabled list, once with a strained left oblique and once with a shoulder strain.
When he was healthy, Crain went 2-3 with a 2.44 ERA and struck out 60 in 48 innings.
The White Sox are obviously hoping the latest ailment doesn't set off another chain reaction of injuries because Crain is a valuable piece of the bullpen.
On the other hand, the Sox are loaded with quality relievers.
In what is likely to be his last season on the South Side, Matt Thornton made his spring debut Tuesday and pitched 1 scoreless inning against Team USA. The 36-year-old lefty was bothered by triceps soreness early in spring training.
Newcomer Matt Lindstrom is another veteran option in the back of the bullpen. The right-hander signed a one-year, $2.3 million contract with the White Sox on Jan. 25 after going 1-0 with a 2.68 ERA with the Orioles and Diamondbacks last season.
Overall, Lindstrom is 13-15 with a 3.64 ERA and 45 saves with the Marlins, Astros, Rockies, Orioles and Diamondbacks.
"My first two or three years in the big leagues, I was always trying to overpower guys with four-seam fastballs," Lindstrom said. "I've become a little bit smarter with age and being in the league a little while, I've tried to use a little deception on my fastball and throw a sinker. Use two types of fastballs and use my breaking ball a little more effectively. But I like to come in and challenge guys. I'm not scared to use my fastball."
Lindstrom still throws hard, as do young White Sox relievers like closer Addison Reed and Nate Jones.
The right-handers should be even more lethal this season after gaining experience as rookies in 2012.
Left-handers Hector Santiago and Donnie Veal are also back after mostly successful rookie seasons, and they should fill out the Sox' seven-man bullpen.
Should there be an injury or need for an upgrade, the White Sox can dip down into the minor leagues and call on a group of relievers that pitched in the majors last season.
Brian Omogrosso got the call in some important games down the stretch and held his own, posting a 2.57 ERA in 17 appearances.
Another right-hander, Jhan Marinez, pitched 22⁄3 scoreless innings, and Leyson Septimo and Deunte Heath also gained some experience.
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