PHOENIX -- The White Sox hold out hope Jesse Crain can return to the field in time for Opening Day but the club is prepared to move forward if he can’t.
The reliever is set to appear in a minor-league game on Saturday, three days after he experienced discomfort in a 23-pitch effort against Los Angeles Dodgers minor leaguers. Although they’d prefer to head to Chicago next week with Crain in the mix, the White Sox feel they have two suitable options in Brian Omogrosso and Ramon Troncoso. Omogrosso has a 0.00 ERA in 10 2/3 innings this spring and Troncoso has a 3.27 ERA after he allowed a pair of runs on Friday night.
“(Troncoso’s) done very well,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “Him and Omo have thrown very well this spring, and if Jesse isn’t ready, I’d think one of those guys could be taken. We haven’t talked about it because we’re still thinking Jesse is going to be ready. We’ll deal with that if and when we have to.”
Crain has been limited to one appearance in a major league exhibition and several other minor league and simulated games with a strain adductor (hip). The injury wiped out the possibility of Crain pitching for Canada in the World Baseball Classic and has resulted in a drop in velocity when he’s on the mound.
Until Crain was sidelined there was little competition expected for a spot in the White Sox bullpen because the unit appeared set from the get-go.
Omogrosso, who had a 2.57 ERA in 17 games last season, knew his chances to join the bullpen were hurt in January when the club signed Matt Lindstrom. But he also knows teams rarely get through a season without an injury and has used that as his motivation.
“I know how things work and I’m not going to get frustrated when we sign somebody, that’s the nature of the business,” said Omogrosso, who is on the team’s 40-man roster. “You never know what’s going to happen with baseball. And a whole season, you’re never going to get through with the same seven relievers. I don’t mind being a Plan B option -- I just want to do whatever I can to help this ballclub win.”
A nonroster invitee, Troncoso said the White Sox, and the opportunity they have provided, helped him overcome an offseason injury. Troncoso lost four teeth when he was struck in the head by a line drive.
The right-hander has one tooth back in place but won’t have the rest repaired until after the season. Troncoso hopes to replicate his 2009 performance, when he had a 2.72 ERA in 82 2/3 innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I was coming from this injury and not starting from 100 percent but 50, and to come here to find this place and this opportunity has helped me come back a lot,” Troncoso said. “I feel really good, maybe better than I did in 2009. But I think what made the differences is the opportunity I found in this place.”