Jesse Crain unsure when he’ll return from oblique injury

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Jesse Crain has been sidelined for more than a week with a strained right oblique muscle and said yesterday that there’s no timetable yet for his return.

Crain was able to play catch Monday, but told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that “we haven’t even talked about” when he’ll see game action again and “we are trying to see how I can get better.”

Pitching coach Don Cooper stressed that the White Sox still “have time” to get Crain ready to begin the season on the active roster, but his spring training workload will be very limited and Gonzales indicates that a disabled list stint is a possibility. For now the best-case scenario has Crain throwing off a mound at the end of the week, so it may be a while before he faces live hitters.

Crain, who left the Twins for the White Sox as a free agent last offseason, threw 65 innings with a 2.62 ERA and 70/31 K/BB ratio. He’s owed $4.5 million this season and next season, and could find himself on the trading block if Chicago falls out of contention.

Indians sign Melky Cabrera to a minor league deal

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The Indians have signed free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera to a minor league deal. The pact is pending a physical.

Cabrera, 33, went unsigned this past offseason after putting up a season of .285/.324/.423 with 17 homers and 85 RBI with the White Sox and the Royals.

Cabrera will report to Columbus once he passes his physical and, according to Paul Hoynes, there are no guarantees being made to him that he’ll get playing time. That said, the Indians aren’t getting much outfield production from anyone besides Michael Brantley, and Cabrera’s status as a switch hitter would give Terry Francona some flexibility, so it would not be shocking to see him on the big club after some reps in the minors.