Results tagged ‘ Jesse Crain ’

Astros targeting May 29 for Crain return

The Astros are targeting May 29 – the date he would be eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list – as the date for injured right-handed pitcher Jesse Crain to be added to a roster, whether at a Minor League affiliate or with the Astros.

Crain, who hasn’t pitched since the middle of last season, was moved from the 15-day disabled list Friday to make room on the 40-man roster for reliever Tony Sipp, who was signed. Crain began spring rehabbing from biceps tendinitis surgery and is now dealing with mostly bursitis in the shoulder, general manager Jeff Luhnow said.

“We’re setting his date as a goal that he’s out with us or one of our Minor League affiliates in games,” said Luhnow, who talked to Crain via phone Friday from Florida, where he’s been rehabbing. “He’s been making progress. He’s feeling better.”

Crain is still only throwing off flat ground, but Luhnow said he’s scheduled to get on the mound in the next few weeks. His throwing program been mapped out for the month.

Crain was an All-Star in a 2013 season in which he posted a 0.74 ERA in 38 games with the White Sox, striking out 46 and walking only 11 batters in 36 2/3 innings, including a 29-innings scoreless streak. He didn’t pitch after being traded to the Rays on July 29 because of biceps tendinitis that eventually required surgery.

In 10 Major League seasons with the Twins (2004-10) and White Sox (2011-13), Crain has posted a 45-30 record with four saves in 532 appearances (all in relief) with a 3.05 ERA and a .229 opponents’ average.

Astros injury updates

Here is the latest on some of the Astros’ injured players:

– RHP Scott Feldman, who’s been on the disabled list since April 18 with right biceps tendinitis, threw 35 pitches in the bullpen Tuesday afternoon without any problems and is expected to be slotted back into the rotation soon.

Feldman, who went 2-1 with a 1.69 ERA in his first three starts with the Astros, said he’ll throw a simulated game on Thursday or Friday and then should be good to go. He could come off the disabled list as early as Saturday.

“I’ve just got to sit down with the training staff and coaches and kind of map out where we go from here,” he said. “I feel like I could pitch right now. We’ll see what happens. We’ve got to get through the live BP first before we know.”

– RHP Alex White took a huge step forward in his recovery process from Tommy John surgery by throwing two innings Tuesday in a game at extended Spring Training in Kissimmee, Fla.

General manager Jeff Luhnow said the Astros were pleased with what they saw from White, who had the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow repaired a little more than a year ago. White injured the elbow at the end of Spring Training last year, a few months after the Astros acquired him in a trade with the Rockies.

“It was a milestone for him,” Luhnow said. “We saw the velocity back up in the neighborhood of where he was before he got hurt. He still has a little more to go, but that’s encouraging. All the secondary stuff was sharp today.

“To me, having had the surgery a little over 12 months ago, he should be starting to understand the timetable for him returning to games in the Minor Leagues, and after today we now can see the end of the tunnel. I’m not going to make any promises, but he’ll continue to throw in games down there, and if that continues we’ll send him down on a rehab assignment.”

– RHP Asher Wojociechowski (right lat strain) threw live batting practice Tuesday for the first time and looked good and felt good, Luhnow said.

– RHP Jesse Crain (right biceps surgery/bursitis) threw off flat ground again Tuesday and is feeling increasingly better, according to Luhnow.

– 2B prospect Delino DeShields Jr., who suffered a fractured cheekbone when he was hit by a pitch April 18 for Double-A Corpus Christi, has also arrived in Florida to rehab. Luhnow said he’s there to take batting practice and potentially see living pitching while the Hooks are on the road.

 

Crain suffers calf injury; Amador out indefinitely

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Wednesday morning right-handed pitcher Jesse Crain suffered a right calf strain Tuesday when he was doing exercises in the gym and will undergo an MRI to make sure there’s no structural damage.

“He came in feeling better this morning,” Luhnow said. “It was sore, so we’re going to modify his throwing program a little bit in light of that. We’ll know more information the next couple of days, but that will be some sort of setback. We’ll continue to try and get him to work on his arm strength, but we’ll keep the calf injury in mind.”

Crain has yet to throw off the mound and is recovering from biceps surgery performed in October. Luhnow said he’ll probably have to throw from his knees during workouts to keep his arm loose.

He was an All-Star in 2013, posting 0.74 ERA in 38 games with the White Sox, striking out 46 and walking only 11 in 36 2/3 innings, including a 29-inning scoreless streak. He didn’t pitch after being traded to the Rays on July 29 because of the injury.

Meanwhile, first baseman Japhet Amador won’t report to camp on Wednesday or any time soon, Luhnow said. Amador is in Mexico with what would only call a family emergency.

“He’s not going to be here, and we don’t know what the next steps are with him,” Luhnow said. “For now, he needs to spend some time with his family, so he won’t be showing up here today. Other than that, we expect everybody else to be here.”

Amador, a 6-foot-4, 311-pound slugger who signed out of the Mexican League last year and played in the Arizona Fall League, was going to compete at first base with Jesus Guzman, Brett Wallace, Jonathan Singleton and Marc Krauss at first base.

“When things happen to your family, you tend not to think about next steps,” Luhnow said. “We’re going to give him the time that he needs, but right now we’re proceeding as if he’s not going be here during Spring Training. He was one of the players that was going to be in the mix for first base, but we have several others here who are going to compete hard for the position and we’ll find the right guy or pair of guys.”

Finding a closer is top job for Astros

Astros manager Bo Porter said Monday morning the task of finding a pitcher or a combination of pitchers to successfully handle the role of closer will be job one this spring. That’s no shocker considering the Astros have blown 48 saves in 111 chances the last two years, which is a Major League-low 56.8 save percentage in that span.

“When you look at the woes in which we had in our bullpen last year, it’s something we set out as an organization to make sure we rectified,” Porter said. “We brought in some guys that have the ability to rectify that portion of our ballclub, and I’m anxious to see how it plays out.”

Porter said newcomers Jesse Crain, Chad Qualls and Matt Albers will all be considered for closer, along with Josh Fields, who handled the duties for part of last season as a rookie after Jose Veras was traded. Qualls spent parts of three seasons as a closer with the D-backs.

“We’ll figure out as the course of spring goes on and the season goes on who’s best suited for that role, but it will be collectively a group effort to get those late outs in the back end of the game,” Porter said. “I think it’s totally open because I think competition brings out the best in all of us. And it’s something that we’re going to let these guys compete and let the competition tell us who should actually have that role.”

Ideally, the Astros would like to have one identified closer, but Porter knows that might not be the case for the start of the season.

“When you have that guy, that’s the ninth-inning guy, you know when it’s a save situation he’s going to get the ball every time,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re not at that point, as far as our team would go. I’m glad we have a multitude of guys capable of manning that role. Again, we’ll let that competition play itself out, and I believe one of these guys, if not two or three of these guys, are going to step up. It’s a good problem to have if you have everyone throw well and now you look and you feel like you have a closer in the seventh, eighth and ninth.”

In addition to experience, which could give Qualls a leg up, the ability to induce weak ground balls is what Porter is looking for in a closer.

“If they do get in trouble, they have something that can get them out of trouble,” he said. “They have to be able to get righties and lefties out because when you bring in a closer, you don’t want to feel like you need to match him up against the opposite hitter. I also think experience plays a huge role in doing that job. It’s a guy that’s been there and understands the moment. The moment is never going to get too big for him. That’s important for well.”

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Players gather for morning instruction

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Catching instructor Jeff Murphy and new first base coach Tarrick Brock talk

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Pitching coach Brent Strom

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Josh Fields talks to Dallas Keuchel

Veteran leadership key as workouts begin

Prior to Astros pitchers and catchers taking the field for the first time Sunday morning on the back fields at Osceola County Stadium, manager Bo Porter met with a group of veteran pitchers he identified as being the leaders of the staff.

Porter sat down with Lucas Harrell, Scott Feldman, Chad Qualls, Matt Albers, Jesse Crain, Jerome Williams and Peter Moylan and told them he wants them to set a good example for the youngsters. They’ll also be involved in some of the morning meetings.

“You look at that group, and it’s guys that had success at the Major League level, they’re veteran guys,” Porter said. “I explained to them, ‘We’re not looking for one leader. We’re looking for a group of leaders.’ This is an unusual situation. A lot of those guys have come here from other organizations. Chad and Albers are a little bit different because they were here at one time and came back. Lucas has been here.

“I wanted to stress to them that this organization and where we’re at right now, it’s not like we have the [Craig] Biggios, the [Jeff] Bagwells, the guys that have been here for many years and you can say, ‘Hey, follow these guys. They know the Astros way.’ We are in the process of creating the Astros way, and our younger guys, I want to make sure they’re following the right people.

“I stressed that to our veteran guys. When you are a young players – and we’ve all been there before – you look around the clubhouse and say, ‘Wow, this guy’s been here 10 years. I wonder how he’s been able to accomplish that?’ Because you’re young, you’re impressionable and you’re going to watch that guy and watch that every move. I told those guys, ‘You will do more by whatever it is you do than you do than by whatever it is that you say.’ So make sure that your actions match what it is you’re saying each and every day.”

While the pitchers did their morning stretch work, Porter emphasized how happy he was that camp was finally underway following an offseason full of roster moves.

“I probably looked at the roster 1,000 times,” he said. “That’s what you do each and every day. You go to the ballpark and sit up at night and you think about the players. It’s good to have the group of talented guys we have here, but more importantly it’s good to be out here and getting started with the 2014 season.”

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Clemens and Moylan emerge

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Harrell heads to field

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Wojciechowski walks to field

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Castro gets in gear

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Rhiner Cruz

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Qualls is back in Kissimmee

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Porter talks with Appel and Stassi

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Corporan mugs for the camera

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Pitchers do morning exercises

Astros sign former UH product Crain

The Astros have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free agent right-handed pitcher Jesse Crain, who played at the University of Houston.

Crain, an American League All-Star in 2013, posted an 0.74 ERA in 37 relief appearances for the White Sox with 11 walks and 46 strikeouts in 36 2/3innings pitched for an 11.29 strikeouts per nine innings ratio. Other highlights from 2013 included holding right-handed hitters to a .174 average (12-for-69), no home runs allowed and a  streak of 29 consecutive scoreless appearances from April 17 through June 22.

Crain’s season ended prematurely due to a right shoulder strain. The White Sox traded Crain to the Rays on July 29, but he did not appear in a game for the Rays.

“Jesse Crain is a proven, quality reliever that will help us win games in 2014,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “We targeted him early in the offseason and are excited to bring him on board.”

In his 10 Major League seasons withthe Twins (2004-10) and White Sox (2011-13), Crain has posted a 45-30 record in 532 appearances (all in relief) with a 3.05 ERA and four saves with a .229 opponents average. His 45 wins in relief since his debut in 2004 are tied with Chad Qualls for tops in the Majors in that span.

Crain also holds the distinction of having the lowest career ERA in ML history against Texas Rangers (minimum 20 innings), with no earned runs allowed in 29 innings over 25 appearance.

Prior to his professional career, Crain starred at both San Jacinto Junior College in Houston and at the University of Houston, earning all-conference honors at both schools. After being selected by Minnesota in the second round of the 2002 June Draft, Crain made his debut on Aug. 5, 2004 against the Angels.

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