Jesse Crain is headed to the disabled list with shoulder tightness that is being emphasized as not indicative of structural damage. This injury has been getting minimized for almost a week now, and John Danks is still on the disabled list for the bit of shoulder tightness he felt, but cynicism aside, Crain could still be back the end of the All-Star Break at this rate. The timeline is open for guessing, though
I argued that the White Sox could probably use another reliable reliever simply to lessen the load on Nate Jones, but that goes double with Crain on the shelf. Kenny Williams, more or less agrees.
The Charlotte Knights' current 1st place standing in the International League South division can be attributed to them having apparently five major league players on the roster at one point. South Side Sox is reporting that RHP Deunte Heath is the latest Knight getting the call-up in reaction to Crain.
Heath is the latest in a now long line of live-armed Sox minor league pitchers who have experienced a sudden improvement in their control this season. Heath has a 1.62 ERA in 44.1 AAA innings, primarily in relief, allowing only 31 hits, striking out 50, and walking just 11.
The bullpen is wide open for anyone coming up right now to establish themselves, be it prospects, or 26 year-old minor league veterans who had their careers stalled for personal reasons. In particular, there's an opportunity to impress coming at the end of the week
Sale has been "all but scratched" for the start he was originally scheduled for Sunday in the name of giving him an extended All-Star break. In the mean time, someone has to go to war against Brett Cecil and the Blue Jays on Sunday. Without a long reliever in the pen, and with the go-to spot starter (Axelrod) in the rotation already, the call-up replacement for Crain figures to play a primary role in replacing Sale..
Heath started three games in Charlotte this year (so did Brian Bruney, incidentally), which gives him an advantage over Omogrosso and Septimo, the other two recent call-ups without defined roles. But those starts were of the short (4 IP max), fill-in variety, and at this point, burning through the bullpen for all of the final game before the break seems a lot more likely than swinging another move to bring up Simon Castro or Charlie Leesman.
It sounds awful, but letting the rookies air it out for two innings at a time is probably conducive to better results than selecting one unqualified starter and hoping he can scrap his way through a batting order three times.
Danks is feeling a lot better than he was a few days ago, but that probably has a lot to do with having been given two cortisone shots so that he could play catch and undergo diagnostics. His pain is reduced, but even Danks doesn't sound like he knows when he's coming back.
“From everything I've been told I should be getting close (to returning),” he said. “I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We're doing everything we know to do. We're just kind of at the mercy of my shoulder now. We're going to keep working hard. That way I can hit the ground running whenever I do get healthy. Hopefully that's in time to help us win the division.”
It's been a pretty awful first year of his big contract and rotation-leader status, but that--as well as his shoddy play leading up to the DL stint--is all the more reason to rehab Danks carefully. Mid-July was the initial optimistic return projection for him, so that has to be back toward August now. Seeing as the prospects of a Charlotte Knights bullpen game is discussed, the Sox could probably use him.