Healthy Crain ready to do his part

CHICAGO -- Two stints on the disabled list wasn’t what Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Jesse Crain had hoped for this season, but he always focused on the one positive in his situation – he’d be back for the season’s end.

An oblique injury shelved Crain in April and a shoulder strain put him back on the disabled list in July. But since then, Crain has remained healthy and is now contributing when it matters most.

“When I had a couple of those muscle injuries, oblique and the shoulder strain, I wanted to make sure I was all the way healthy for the end of the season,” Crain said prior to Saturday’s game. “There’s no point in rushing back then and not being able to pitch now. Being able to take that time and get all the way healthy and being able to throw now healthy is what the plan was. I’m happy we took that approach and I’m feeling good now.”

Crain appeared especially fresh Friday while making one of his most significant appearances of the season. He allowed one hit and no runs and struck out four in 2 2/3 innings to help the White Sox hold on for a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays and move within a game of the Detroit Tigers. It was his longest appearance of the season.

“I was expecting to go at least two innings when I went out there,” said Crain, who has a 2.49 ERA in 47 innings and 50 appearances. “The third (inning) is kind of a little bonus. But I felt good. The first two innings went pretty good. I was happy to do it.”

White Sox manager Robin Ventura was just as pleased to allow him to do it.

“I can’t say enough about what he did,” Ventura said following Friday’s win. “He really stepped up going the distance he did. It’s just one of those that guys gutted it out.

“He looked great. He was strong enough to be able to go out there and do it. It’s just a great job by him to be able to do that knowing the situation we’re in.”

Crain is unlikely to be used again on Saturday, but he can’t wait to contribute again.

“It’s exciting to be a part of winning and trying to accomplish a goal as opposed to playing to the end and just go home,” Crain said. “We’re here or we’re all in until they tell us we can’t play anymore.”