ST. PETERSBURG — It has been one month since the Tampa Bay Rays traded for RHP Jesse Crain (right shoulder strain) with hopes of getting him healthy and adding him to the mix of late-inning relievers for the final weeks of the season.
But as September looms, Crain doesn't appear any closer to returning to the mound than he was when the Rays traded with the White Sox for a player to be named for the All-Star. And time is no longer an ally.
“He's kind of stuck right now,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It's not moving. It's not getting worse. It's not getting any better.”
Crain, placed on the disabled list June 30 while with the White Sox, said he will join the Rays on the West Cost road trip so he can continue to work with head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield and his staff. He hopes to begin throwing off the mound during the later part of the trip. In order be able to join the rotation in September, Crain said he would need to throw a mix of four or five bullpen sessions/simulated games. There will be off days between those sessions, at least the early ones, and that will further delay a comeback.
The holdup remains the same — Crain still can't play catch pain free.
“(It has to get) to where I can at least play catch and not even think about my shoulder, be free and easy and not even think one bit about it,” Crain said. “I think that's when you make the next step, because it's hard to throw off the mound if you still feel it playing catch. I think that's what we're trying to find and trying to get to.”
When asked if he thinks he can return this season, Crain said, “I hope so. In my gut, yeah.”
When asked if he was hopeful that Crain can contribute during the stretch run, Maddon said, “Hopeful is a nice word. I just don't know. We probably need to see some significant movement within the next week or so.”
Odorizzi and the rotation
RHP Jake Odorizzi will officially be recalled from Triple-A Durham today and start against the Angels in the finale of this three-game series. His addition to the rotation pushes LHP David Price back a day and means Price will face the A's in Oakland on Friday, with RHP Alex Cobb pitching Saturday.
Maddon said the team hasn't settled on a starter for Sunday. That would be RHP Roberto Hernandez's day, and Maddon said he would be in the mix to make another start.
The rosters expand Sunday, so the Rays could again turn to Durham for a starter.
Pushing Price and Cobb back a day affords them a little rest during the stretch.
LHP Matt Moore (sore left elbow), who will make a rehab start today for Durham, is expected to return next week.
Maddon said Moore would start Tuesday against the Angels in Anaheim, but Moore said he could return as soon as Monday.
“So it's either going to be three days' rest or four days' rest,” Moore said.
The Rays also expected RHP Jeremy Hellickson to return next week from his week of rest.
Maddon said he will use a five-man rotation in September. Popping in Odorizzi for one start, resting Hellickson and getting Moore back after two months means the Rays will have some rested arms for the playoff push. The only pitcher they have to worry about is RHP Chris Archer, who has never been a starter this late in a season.
“He's the guy that's really on the edge of uncharted waters. We have to watch him closely,” Maddon said.
Price threw his bullpen session Wednesday while wearing a Vanderbilt football uniform, complete with helmet.
“The helmet helped me stay back over the rubber,” Price said.
Price called Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin on Tuesday as soon as he learned of the college football jersey-themed road trip and had his former baseball coach overnight him the uniform.
Maddon said he has seen video of DH Delmon Young batting for Double-A Montgomery and said he looked good. Young is expected to join the Rays on Sunday. ... DH Luke Scott began a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday in Durham.