GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jesse Crain has not pitched in a Cactus League game since March 12 against the A's due to a slightly strained right oblique. But Crain took a major step toward a return by throwing a 35-pitch bullpen session on Friday at Camelback Ranch, using his entire arsenal very well."I would call it a medium, but medium for him is solid for others," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper told reporters in Tucson when asked about the intensity of Crain's bullpen, his first extensive mound effort since being scratched from a game on March 14. "He will throw a bullpen on Sunday, and we anticipate he will be fine. It was a good sideline." Crain already has said that he usually shoots for 10 spring appearances to get ready for the season, but he also added that side sessions could bump him up to where he needs to be after working in just three games to date. Both Cooper and manager Robin Ventura haven't ruled out Crain from the closer mix, but Ventura reiterated Friday that the closer's call between Crain, Matt Thornton and rookie Addison Reed ultimately will be decided by what's best for the team. "We'll see how he does when he gets back there," said Ventura of Crain. "We'll evaluate as we go along. He hasn't lost anything. It's how he feels." "You guys ask me Feb. 27. I said come back March 27," said Cooper of the closer decision. "Nothing's really going to change there. We're still evaluating. We've got options, and that's a good thing. Once Jesse starts running into games, he will be there."
Beckham is ready to run
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Seven stolen bases stand as Gordon Beckham's highest single-season total, and that amount came during his rookie campaign in 2009.Since then, Beckham has just nine stolen bases in 16 attempts. Part of that slowdown has come from the second baseman not being on base as much as he would have liked, but when the opportunity presents itself in 2012, Beckham plans to run. "I want to run more for sure," said Beckham, who is 2-for-2 running this spring. "I feel like I've had, like I've gotten a couple of bags this spring, and my jumps are good and my instincts are where they need to be there on that. "But I need to pick my spots. I can't run on everyone." Beckham pointed out that if a pitcher is exceptionally quick to the plate and the catcher has a good arm, that combination might not be the best for him. There definitely will be opportunities where he can steal a base and get into scoring position for the next few hitters. Bench coach Mark Parent spoke at SoxFest about wanting to improve the team's running game, from stopping the other team to being able to move from first to third on a single or score from first consistently on extra-base hits. That improvement includes good athletes like Beckham stealing more bases when the time is right. "Picking your spots a little bit and getting a good jump and trying to trust your eyes," said Beckham on his keys for stealing bases. "Sometimes people get in trouble thinking they don't trust their eyes. When they don't trust their eyes, it's harder to get jumps to get it back."
White Sox take part in important trip to Tucson
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The 17-4 loss suffered by the White Sox to the Dodgers Friday afternoon in Tucson was meaningless in the grand scheme of the day's events.
The teams made the two-hour trip to take part in the Pima County charity baseball game at the Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium (formerly Tucson Electric Park), with all proceeds from the contest benefiting the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation.A sellout crowd of 10,894 watched players such as Adam Dunn, Brent Morel, Kosuke Fukudome and Alexei Ramirez in action for the White Sox. "Again, we're doing this as a charity game, and that's the stuff that means a lot," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You come down here and make a difference. You're going to play a baseball game, but it means more than that."
Pierzynski has speed to burn
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski gave the crowd of 6,518 something to stand up and cheer about Friday night at Camelback Ranch when he hit an inside-the-park homer in the fifth inning of their 6-3 victory over the D-backs.
Many in the crowd rose to their feet when Pierzynski rounded first and saw the ball still was in play."They realized who was running and what the chances were, so they got a little excited," said a smiling Pierzynski, who remembers hitting an inside-the-park homer in Triple-A and Class A ball but said his impetus for scoring Friday was erasing Paul Konerko's bragging rights from his 2000 inside-the-park homer.
Third to first
Gavin Floyd didn't have his best control in Friday's 6-3 victory over the D-backs, walking five in six innings. But he still only allowed two earned runs."That's what pitching is all about," said Floyd, who struck out three and gave up five hits. "When you don't feel the greatest, when you're out there battling, you try to make pitches. If you don't hit your spots, be repetitive, execute pitches and keep the team in the game. That's what we're paid to do." Hector Santiago gave up his first Cactus League run via A.J. Pollock's seventh-inning homer. Dylan Axelrod, in competition for one of the final bullpen slots, gave up four runs on 10 hits in four innings during the Dodgers' 17-4 victory in Tucson.