Jesse Crain sat out the second half of the 2013 season because of a shoulder strain and then underwent biceps surgery this winter. He was hoping to be ready for Opening Day, but that’s not going to happen.
According to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, Crain — who signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Astros in December — is at least two weeks away from his first mound work of the spring. That puts him well behind the other relievers in Astros camp and it’s a certainty now that he will open the 2014 campaign with a 15-day disabled list stint.
Crain owns a fantastic 2.10 ERA and 10.6 K/9 in 150 innings since the beginning of the 2011 season. If his health begins to cooperate, he should eventually move his way toward Houston’s closer role.
Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.
Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.
At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.