Could Jesse Crain Be Out Longer Than Expected?

By David Hill

When the Rays acquired Jesse Crain just before the non-waiver trade deadline, it was expected that he would fill the void in the middle of the Rays bullpen. Even though he was injured when he was acquired from the White Sox, he was expected to be back relatively soon, and potentially team up with Joel Peralta to provide an excellent duo before getting to Fernando Rodney. He was even someone that the Rays may consider to offer an extension to, should he perform down the stretch.

Now, less than two weeks later, the Rays have taken their second step to solidifying the bullpen, acquiring Wesley Wright from the Houston Astros. Wright is far more of a LOOGY than either of the other lefties, Cesar Ramos or Jake McGee, and could fill a valuable role in the bullpen for the Rays down the stretch. The fact that Wright is under team control until 2015 is an added bonus.

As it stands, Crain has yet to pitch for the Rays, having suffered a setback on August 4th, and may begin playing catch by the end of the week. That is, if everything goes according to plans. This is Crain’s second setback, as he suffered one on July 25th as well. At this point, it may be fair to wonder if the Rays acquisition of Wright is somehow related to concerns about Crain being able to get on the mound. As Crain has not begun his rehab yet, this may be a major factor in the trade for Wright.

While Wright is a LOOGY and Crain, a right handed set up man, would fill decidedly different roles for the Rays, both would deepen the bullpen. Wright would mean that McGee would be freed up to pitch whenever Maddon needed someone to get out of a jam without having to worry about saving McGee for a dangerous lefty later in the game. Meanwhile, a healthy Crain would give Maddon another arm that he could use in that situation, freeing up McGee to face that tough lefty.

The acquisition of Wesley Wright may not have anything to do with Jesse Crain’s injury, and may just be a matter of the Rays looking to upgrade their bullpen at a negligible cost. However, it also makes sense for the Rays to consider alternative plans should Crain’s injury linger as it has thus far.