Jesse Crain’s new business: Resting his strained shoulder
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org July 3, 2013 10:22PM
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 03: Nate McLouth #9 of the Baltimore Orioles takes down Tyler Flowers #21 of the Chicago White Sox as Flowers tries to turn a double play in the 9th inning at U.S. Cellular Field on July 3, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Orioles defeated the White Sox 4-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Updated: August 5, 2013 6:41PM
In baseball, momentum is only as good as tomorrow’s starting pitcher.
Or, in the case of the White Sox, the transactions wire.
One day after breaking a five-game losing streak with a rare clean victory — a day in which they announced the signing of a top Latin American prospect and generated a nice feel-good buzz by bringing Jim Thome into the organization as a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn — it was back to the bad news Sox on Wednesday.
Jesse Crain went on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder, and Paul Konerko went with him because of a strained lower back. And the Sox lost to the Baltimore Orioles 4-2, their seventh loss in the last eight games.
Konerko is a White Sox great. And Crain is — or was, depending on how quickly his shoulder is restored to good health — one of Hahn’s greatest chips as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches at the end of the month.
If it can go wrong, it will for the Sox. They’ve earned their place at the bottom of the American League Central standings, but they’ve also had a nasty share of bad luck with injuries to Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Gordon Beckham, Adam Dunn, Konerko and Crain. Even the minor leagues have been hit. On Wednesday, their top right-handed starting pitcher prospect, Erik Johnson, left his start for Class AAA Charlotte with a strained right groin.
Crain’s contract is up after the season, so he has no value to the Sox if he’s not traded. And his value never was higher than it was before Wednesday, with contending teams needing top relief pitchers like him and Crain having his best of several good seasons (0.74 ERA).
Konerko, 37, probably wasn’t going to be traded anyway, even though he also is in the last year of his contract. He has 10-and-5 no-trade rights, and if he is thinking about making this his last year, he likely would prefer to keep it simple and keep it in Chicago.
The Sox probably wouldn’t get much more than a low-level prospect for Konerko and will go out of their way to give him what he wants. The back problem likely clinches his staying in town this year and might make his decision to retire easier than he thought it would be. Stay tuned.
Crain warmed up Tuesday night, then sat down.
‘‘I think from throwing a lot,’’ said Crain, who ranks first among AL relievers in ERA and is tied for seventh in appearances with 38. “And when I go out there, I go all in. Every game I go in, every pitch is important, so I just think it finally took its toll on me and I just got it strained. Hopefully I can be back in two weeks.’’
The All-Star Game in New York is July 16, so the injury pitchforks any chance of Crain going there. He’ll have about 12 days to prove he’s worth trading for after that.
‘‘With me and Paulie going on the DL on the same day, on top of everything that has happened this year, it’s not what we’re hoping for,’’ Crain said. ‘‘But that’s the life of a team. You’ve got to keep working through things and deal with the punches as they come.’’
Trade rumors come with the losing this time of year.
‘‘It’s part of it,’’ Dunn said. “You can’t sit here and worry about it. You can’t sit here and avoid it — it’s part of the game. We’re not idiots. We know what is going on. But you have to do what you do on the field and let all that stuff take care of itself.’’