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Jesse Crain dominant in setup role

5/22/2013

CHICAGO -- After fighting off numerous injuries that included oblique and shoulder woes last season, reliever Jesse Crain appears to be at the top of his game again.

Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura has been riding his hot pitcher as of late during the Sox's recent streak of seven wins in their previous 10 games before Wednesday.

Crain has been used to a point where he is on pace to pitch in more than 80 games in 2013. That said, you won't find Crain complaining about extra work. As of Wednesday, he was leading the league in appearances (24) and holds (14).

"I feel staying consistent is the key for me and my routine." Crain said. "I try to work at my conditioning and preparation the same way without having to change anything. My way of doing things doesn't mean I am going to have success every time out, but I think it leads to more consistency."

Crain, 31, has been on an incredible streak, having gone 18 straight appearances without giving up a run.

"Hey, before we start, I don't talk about numbers," he said before talking to ESPN Chicago. "Relief pitchers, at least the ones I know, don't show too much emotion when it comes to doing well or not. I think you kind of learn that you don't show any emotion about anything. Your family might have some trouble with that sometimes, but we as professional pitchers learn to control exterior emotion."

The White Sox's setup man says he believes it takes a special type of pitcher to survive the grind of bullpen demands year in and year out.

"There is a brotherhood among guys who do this for a living," he said. "There are few guys even on your own team that understand relief pitchers. Some of them think it is easy to come into a game and throw one inning. What they don't understand is that mentally and physically you have to be ready every single day. I know we aren't out there playing eight innings, but you are mentally in each game."

Crain is on pace for 52 holds, which would be a major league record. The current record is 40 by Luke Gregerson with the San Diego Padres in 2010.