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Sunday, March 25, 2012
Crain feels ready to compete for closer job

By Bruce Levine

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox reliever Jesse Crain is ready to return to the bullpen after recovering from a right-side oblique strain. Crain threw 40 pitches in a side session on Sunday morning and then declared himself ready to compete again.

“It went good,” Crain said. “The next thing I need to do is throw to hitters and I’ll do that on Tuesday.”

Crain is one of three pitchers competing for the closer’s job vacated by the trade of Sergio Santos this winter.

“I haven’t been thinking about [closing]. My concern has been to get healthy,” Crain said. “I’m not in control of that. All I can do is go out there and throw. If they decide to put me there, yeah. All of us would love to have that opportunity.”

Rookie Addison Reed, Matt Thornton and Crain are competing for the role, and manager Robin Ventura is in no hurry to name a winner right now.

“I never have had the opportunity to do that in the big leagues,” Crain said. “As a set up guy you come in to as tough or tougher situations [all the time]. How many times have me and Thornton come into a game with the bases loaded or two men on in the sixth or seventh -- that is where the game is there. I wouldn’t put that much pressure on myself if [closing] was the case.”

The White Sox bullpen could feature four rookie pitchers at the beginning of the season, including Reed.