GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Now in his third go-around with the World Baseball Classic, Jesse Crain is confident the exhibition won’t affect his preparation.
The White Sox right-hander has pitched for Canada twice before and believes it’s easier for a relief pitcher to compete than a starter.
The competition begins on March 3 and Crain is fortunate Canada’s camp is in Goodyear, Ariz., a short 11-mile drive from Camelback Ranch. He also knows he’ll have pitched for the White Sox at least twice before the exhibition begins and he has a pretty good idea of his schedule.
“I don’t think it affects me very much,” Crain said. “For a bullpen guy, it’s a lot easier. I’ll throw an inning at a time. I won’t throw two days in a row. I’ll get three games in before I go so it’s not going to be too much different. Whenever I go out there, whether it’s Spring Training or in a regular game, I go out with the same intensity no matter what.”
Crain has had success in his three WBC appearances with six strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. He has allowed a hit and no runs and saved one of Canada’s two Pool B victories in 2006. Canada went 2-1 in pool play in 2006 but didn’t advance to the next round. The team was 0-2 in 2009 and also didn’t advance.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Crain said. “This will be my third time doing it. It’s an opportunity that you don’t get very often. So when it comes and you can do it, I think it’s fun to do that.”
Catcher Tyler Flowers will wear the No. 21 this season after he wore 17 in 2012. The digits became available after pitching coach Don Cooper switched to No. 99 in honor of the late batting practice instructor Kevin Hickey, who passed away last season. Outfielder Jordan Danks also forfeited No. 7 for veteran signee Jeff Keppinger, who wore the number in Tampa Bay last season. Danks returned to No. 20, which he forfeited last season after Kevin Youkilis arrived in a June trade. Danks said he’s excited because it’s the first season he’s been in camp wearing a uniform number less than 67.
Beckham: ‘We tried too hard down stretch’
Second baseman Gordon Beckham’s struggles at the plate have given him insight into why the White Sox struggled in September. Over a 12-game span, the White Sox fell out of first place after they had opened up a three-game lead over the Detroit Tigers. Beckham thinks the team’s hitters were hard-pressed to produce runs in a span in which they scored only 31 and went 2-10.
“We wanted it too much,” Beckham said. “People think I’m crazy about that, but when you try harder, you produce less. I know that very well. I tried really hard a lot of times and it didn’t work out. But when you let go a little bit it works out. We put too much pressure on ourselves to get the big hit, that kind of stuff. If we get in that position this year I think we’ll learn from that.”
Outfielder Alex Rios was one of at least five position players to arrive at camp on Wednesday. Position players aren’t required to be in camp until Sunday. The others to arrive early: Jordan Danks, nonroster invitee Steve Tolleson and minor-leaguers Trayce Thompson and Andy Wilkins.
Peavy wanted to play in WBC
Already a two-time WBC participant, Jake Peavy said he’s sad to not be a part of the 2013 exhibition. Peavy has made four starts for Team USA between 2006 and 2009. He made two starts in 2006 (3.38 ERA) and had a 14.40 ERA in two 2009 starts.
“I’m disappointed not being in the World Baseball Classic but it’s always a fun time and to watch as well,” Peavy said.