After a right oblique strain in Spring Training dragged him out of what was apparently a very wide open closer race, Jesse Crain is having trouble with the same muscle, but on his left side this time. He's been out since Friday, which has led to the current stretched situation where Nate Jones finds himself second out of all White Sox relievers in innings.
Crain is throwing a bullpen session Thursday to see how he feels, and puts himself in the category of being able to return nearly immediately.
"We’re just letting it relax a little bit and hopefully I’ll be ready in the next day or two if all goes well," Crain said Wednesday morning.
Six days seems like a very confident timetable given how much time other players have missed with such an injury--Danks DL stint last season comes to mind--but Crain returned with no issues after sitting out less than two weeks in Spring. If this injury is viewed as being less severe than the previous one, and Jesse has not yet shown a penchant for shortening his career via impatience, there's reason to be confident that this is minor.
In a less positive scenario, where Crain needs to miss another week, then the Sox are staring down a four-game set with Boston right on the heels of a 14-inning getaway day with Oakland, and may decide they need another arm from AAA Charlotte. They'll need to pick someone from the group that was so interesting that two pitchers were promoted straight from AA to the major league roster instead of them.
While Thornton pitched back-to-back game on Tuesday and Wednesday and Nate Jones went multiple innings., Addison Reed and Hector Santiago should be free for an inning on Thursday, and Zach Stewart remains lightly used. That's not a deep compliment of pitchers to have against a tough Boston offense, even though selecting between Brian Bruney, Jhan Marinez or Dylan Axelrod doesn't offer anyone more reliable than Stewart. Axelrod is working as a starter, Bruney and Marinez are both walkaholics.
The risk of the White Sox getting stuck in the middle waiting out a mild but nagging and injury and pulling the trigger on a wholly undesirable roster move seem high.