Jesse Crain at least two weeks from mound work

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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.

Phillies sign Trevor Plouffe to minor league deal

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Infielder Trevor Plouffe has signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports. Plouffe asked for and was granted his release from the Rangers earlier this month.

Plouffe, 31, had a double and a home run in 17 plate appearances with Triple-A Round Rock to start the 2018 season. He spent last year with the Athletics and Rays, putting up a meager .198/.272/.318 batting line in 100 games.

Plouffe has mostly played third base throughout his career, but can also handle the other three infield spots and both outfield corners, so he’ll serve as organizational depth at Triple-A Lehigh Valley for the Phillies.