Jesse Crain Getting Closer to His Rays Debut

By David Hill

Back when the Rays acquired Jesse Crain, it was notable for two reasons. First, it marked the first time that the Rays had acquired an All-Star at the trading deadline. Second, since Crain was injured at the time of the acquisition, the Rays and the White Sox left the compensation open, so as to see how Crain performed upon his return.

The Rays knew there were risks involved in taking on an injured pitcher, and the White Sox likely knew that they would not get much for him due to his injury. Since Crain only had a sprained shoulder, this would be the type of deal that could work out for everyone involved, right? Well, theoretically, it would. However, the problem with that idea was, that thus far, Crain has not suited up for the Rays since he was introduced at a press conference. In fact, it may even be fair to wonder if Crain would ever actually gt on the field for the Rays, especially since he is a free agent after this season.

Now, it appears as though Crain’s much awaited debut for the Rays may be coming close. Yesterday, he threw 36 pitches in his second bullpen session, mixing in some breaking pitches while increasing the volume of pitches made. While he still needs to see how his shoulder reacts today, Crain felt encouraged.

Aug 4, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jesse Crain (26) in the dugout against the San Francisco Giants at Tropicana Field. The Rays won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

"“I’m still going in the right direction,” Crain said. “Again, like last time, we’ll see how I feel tomorrow and go from there and decide what the next step is. But very positive.”"

Despite the Rays struggles, the bullpen has been solid, putting together an ERA of 2.00 over their last 18 innings. Potentially adding a healthy Jesse Crain to the mix would certainly help, especially with the way that the starters have struggled since the calender flipped to September. Crain could potentially allow Joe Maddon to shorten the game even more, giving him more options to mix and match with his bullpen should a game appear to be on the verge of getting away. Adding another arm to the equation certainly would not hurt.

As the Rays have been faltering, Maddon may need to get creative to coax the Rays to a playoff spot. The return of Jesse Crain could make that job a slight bit easier.