03/22/2013 11:55 PM ET
White Sox think Crain can be ready for opener
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The Opening Day door has not exactly been closed on veteran White Sox reliever Jesse Crain.
He is scheduled to throw one inning during a Minor League game on Saturday afternoon at Camelback Ranch to test his sore right adductor. Despite that injury limiting Crain to one Cactus League game on Feb. 25 against the Giants, he doesn't need a certain amount of innings in order to be active at the 2013 outset.
"If Jesse is healthy, we know what he does," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "We want him to feel better, and we want to feel better by seeing him go out there a couple times and throw the ball like he can. When Jesse is healthy, we know what we got."
"That's the biggest thing, he throws and feels OK," added White Sox manage Robin Ventura. "I don't think there's any amount of pitches. It's just more when he throws and declares himself clear and feeling normal. Then you feel good about it."
Crain's only issue with the injury has centered on being able to let pitches go full force off the mound. Of course, going full force becomes the only way to post a 2.44 ERA over 51 games and a 2.62 ERA over 67 games, as Crain did in 2011 and '12, respectively, for the White Sox.
Starting the year with Crain on the disabled list, and with Dylan Axelrod in the rotation while John Danks comes back from shoulder surgery, leaves one more bullpen spot open. Cooper went down the list of candidates before Friday's game against Oakland.
David Purcey, who would give the White Sox a fourth left-handed reliever, has lowered his angle a little bit during Spring Training, and the White Sox like his arm. Jeff Gray is throwing the ball well, and both Brian Omogrosso and Ramon Troncoso have had good springs.
This final spot could come down to Omogrosso and Troncoso, with the White Sox having seen Omogrosso in action for 17 games last season. They also would risk losing Troncoso through waivers if he started with the team and was designated for assignment when Crain returned, whereas Omogrosso is part of the 40-man roster and has options remaining.
"We haven't talked about it because we're still thinking Jesse is going to be ready," Cooper said. "We'll deal with that if and when we have to."
"Long, middle, short, I'll do anything they need me to do," Omogrosso said. "Getting to the big leagues, you do whatever they ask you to do and do it with a smile on your face. But Jesse is a battler so you never know what's going to happen. He might wake up tomorrow morning and feel great."
Santiago has no qualms about starting in relief
PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Moving Dylan Axelrod into the White Sox starting rotation as John Danks' temporary replacement means Hector Santiago begins the 2013 season in the bullpen.
Danks will start the season on the disabled list as he tries to regain velocity and command after Aug. 6 season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery, and Santiago also was in consideration for the vacant starting role, but he understands the decision and has no problem with the choice.
"I mean, the time is going to come," said Santiago, who fanned five over three scoreless innings in Friday night's 4-4 tie with the A's. "It's a matter of going out there and getting your time and getting more innings and building yourself up. I'm sure sooner or later it will happen.
"[Axelrod] has done it for so long, and I've gotten half a season at it two years ago, and last year four starts at it. All around, he's been equipped for a starting role and I'm getting back and building up to it. I understand completely."
Despite possessing better raw stuff than Axelrod, two scouts who have watched the left-hander this spring agree that Santiago is better suited at this point for the bullpen. As Santiago pointed out, he made four starts for the White Sox in 2012 and made 23 Minor League starts between Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham in 2011. Axelrod has 10 Major League starts and 60 over his Minor League career.
"I'm a better out-of-the-'pen guy than he is," Santiago said. "Going out there, I've done it more times than he has. The situation fits us both best."
Lineup to feature Konerko fifth, Dunn fourth
PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Manager Robin Ventura indicated Friday that the White Sox regular-season lineup will have Jeff Keppinger hitting second, followed by Alex Rios, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko. Ventura quickly added that this lineup is subject to change.
"We will mix and match and change it up," Ventura said. "If they're throwing a lefty and you feel like you want to have two righties in there, Adam can switch to fifth. I think that would be ordinary. For right now, that's probably where we'll start."
Ventura never cared where he hit as a player, as long as he was in the lineup. Depending on the game situation, the player hitting eighth could be just as important as the cleanup hitter on a given night.
"Once the game starts, you never know the situation that's going to come up, no matter what position you're hitting," Ventura said. "If it was that way, everybody batting at the bottom of the order would not have a very good attitude. I always looked at it more if I'm in the lineup and have a chance to hit, that's pretty good."
Third to first
• John Danks is scheduled to throw in a Minor League contest Sunday afternoon at Camelback Ranch. Danks will start the season on the disabled list as he tries to regain velocity and command after Aug. 6 season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery.
• Donnie Veal and Addison Reed are scheduled to toss two innings apiece in a Minor League game Saturday. Axelrod and Matt Thornton join Danks on Sunday on the Minor League side, with the White Sox Cactus League opponent being American League Central rival Kansas City. Pitching coach Don Cooper did not indicate who would start for the White Sox in the scheduled Cactus League game.
• Opening Day starter Chris Sale is scheduled for just two or three innings against Texas on Tuesday in Surprise as part of his final tuneup before the regular-season opener against the Royals on April 1. It will be Sale's first Opening Day start.