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White Sox pitcher Jesse Crain hoping to be ready for Opening Day

Updated: March 14, 2013 10:09PM



TEMPE, Ariz. — While Jesse Crain has pitched in only one game this spring, he remains confident he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

“Hoping to feel good tomorrow for another bullpen [session], so I’m not worried about it,’’ Crain said Thursday morning, a day after he threw a side session at Camelback Ranch. “It’s getting closer, but I know what I need to do to get ready. Bullpen-wise, my arm feels great and my pitches feel great. It’s just being able to extend and be game-ready, and hopefully I’ll be that in the next couple of days.’’

Crain is sore in the right groin area, specifically an adductor strain. He was supposed to pitch for Canada in the World Baseball Classic but was scratched because of it. He still can’t get full extension with his left leg without discomfort.

“I can tell when I’m ready to throw in a game, and as of yesterday, I wasn’t. But it’s still taking a step forward, so hopefully I’ll be even another step forward and be ready to go.’’

Keppinger scratched

A day after manager Robin Ventura said Jeff Keppinger would be out for a couple of days, the infielder was penciled in the lineup at second base. Then he was scratched in favor of Gordon Beckham because of a personal matter. Keppinger might not be available Friday, either.

“He left for some family issues, so it’s nothing to do with baseball,’’ Ventura said.

Thornton itching

Matt Thornton is eager to put the pedal to the metal, but at 36, he knows better.

He pitched in a minor-league game Wednesday, working on his harder breaking ball, and will skip two days before throwing in a game.

The tender elbow that sent Thornton for a precautionary MRI during the first week of camp is good, he insisted.

“I feel great, I really do,’’ Thornton said.

“I’m looking forward now to throwing more often, honestly. To get out there more. I hate ‘today off, tomorrow off, pitch in two days.’ I’m tired of just throwing sidelines.

‘‘It’s part of the plan. And it’s hard to stick to the plan.’’

The plan is to keep the workhorse Thornton, whose 472 appearances since 2006 rank first in the American League, strong through September.

“I almost went to [pitching coach Don Cooper] after my last outing and said, ‘Let’s scrap the sideline and let’s pitch in a game,’ ’’ Thornton said.

‘‘I want to be strong throughout the season and start throwing more often and bringing it all together in the next few outings.’’

This and that

Right-handed reliever Brian Omogrosso has not allowed an earned run in seven appearances covering 92/3 innings. Dylan Axelrod has given up one earned run in eight innings.

† Another round of roster cuts is expected Friday.



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