In no way do I want to minimize the injury or rehab of Jesse Crain. This is to simple draw attention to the timeline of Jesse Crain over the last 15 months.
(Full Disclosure: I said on an off-season Astros Boxes podcast - a regular collaboration between Astros County and the Crawfish Boxes - that, if the Astros didn't sign Jesse Crain, I would burn Minute Maid Park down)
June 29, 2013: Crain allows a run for the first time since April 12, 2013 in his final appearance of the season, having gone 31 games (31IP) between earned runs, with a 40K:9BB ratio.
June 29: Nick Cafardo writes in the Boston Globe that Crain will be a "sought-after reliever. Don't rule out the Red Sox on this one."
July 3: Crain goes on the DL with a strained right shoulder.
July 29: Crain is sent from the White Sox to the Rays in a conditional deal. The condition is that "how often he's able to take ball for the Rays will determine "the quality of the prospect returned to the White Sox."
October: Crain undergoes right biceps surgery.
October 31: Crain is granted free agency
December 31: Crain signs as a free agent with the Astros for $3.25m. Aaron Gleeman writes, "If healthy, Crain will be the Astros' best late-inning option and getting a chance in the closer role could lead to a nice payday when he hits the open market again next offseason at age 32."
Crain: "It's been 2 1/2 months so far (since surgery), and I'm looking forward to starting throwing in about a week or two and kind of go from there." Crain said being available on Opening Day is "a best-case scenario." Luhnow says, "We're not going to rush him, but we feel like he's going to be ready to go, certainly in the early season if not before the season's beginning."
February 1, 2014: Crain attends the UH Alumni Game at Cougar Field and tells Joseph Duarte, "That would be a huge bonus if I was ready (for the start of the season). I'm not planning on that. I would be surprised if I was ready by then." Duarte says, "A best-case scenario (according to Crain) would be to pitch in a couple of Spring Training games and only miss a couple of weeks of the season" (emphasis mine). Crain:
My real goal is to be able to throw in at least a game or two in spring training. If I can get to that point, I'm really close. If it's not the beginning of the season it will be a week or two after."
February 4: Crain throws a baseball for the first time since surgery:
I only got back to like 45, 50 feet. I...made about 70 throws or so and felt good. Started off on the right foot for sure...I won't be off a mound for at least a few weeks...Most likely it won't be (Opening Day), but is it a possibility, yeah. I really don't know.
February 17: Bo Porter tells the Chronicle after the first day of Spring Training workouts that he would like a firm closer. Porter is including an expected group of four pitchers in the team's closer competition: Josh Fields...Chad Qualls...Matt Albers...and Jesse Crain.
I'm not going to get too caught up in what's going to happen because, you know, if I get back and that is my job, if I get back and I'm going to be somewhere else, so be it. I'm just worried about being healthy.
As it is, Crain is only throwing from flat ground, but hopes to get to 120 feet within the next couple of weeks.
Sometime in April, I think so, yeah. I can't imagine it being longer than that...I don't want to set any date, because if I don't make that date, to feel down on myself or anybody else.
February 18: Crain suffers a calf strain while working in the gym.
I was just doing a workout, in the weight room after the (on-field) workout yesterday. Doing a box step-up and just on one of them, it went. No warning or anything. It felt like I got hit by a ball. I thought someone threw something at me at first, and realized it was my calf...I'm not worried about it...Obviously, it's disappointing. I don't want it to happen, but it's nothing I'm worried about.
February 20: Crain says, "It's just a Grade 1 strain. The biggest thing for a strain is that you got to let it calm down." Luhnow acknowledges that it will be "some kind of setback," but his timetable had not been altered. Crain:
I should be able to start throwing regularly hopefully within a week, but that's just me guessing.
March 3: The Astros believe that Crain won't be ready to pitch in the first half of March, but "that Crain can be ready some time in April."
March 22: Crain's calf strain is "a non-factor" for a "week or two." Crain estimates his time frame for a return at "end of April, beginning of May, somewhere in that time frame."
April 2: Jesse Crain believes "early May remains a realistic goal" for his return after shoulder soreness following his first bullpen in the last week. Crain:
Today was my best day throwing - today was my first good day of throwing (since the bullpen). Took it easy.
April 6: Crain is scheduled to leave the following day for Kissimmee to rehab his biceps injury. Crain:
Hopefully, within the next two weeks, I can get a batting practice in, but that just depends on how I feel and that's still a day-by-day thing...Probably a week or 10 days of rehab games.
April 25: Crain is "no longer expected to return to the mound (in May)". Luhnow:
...Over the course of the past week or so, he developed some bursitis in his shoulder. This is not related to his prior injury. We do feel he has made a good comeback from his prior injury...but the bursitis is affecting him. So we took him off the mound...Having said that, the early May timetable is no longer early May. I'm not going to give you another timetable at this point because I don't know. I assume in about a week's time or 10 days, we'll know more..."
May 12: Crain is brought from Kissimmee to Houston to continue his rehab at Minute Maid:
So far so good. The last week or so it's gotten better every day, so hopefully it will keep continuing that (sic). It feels fine, but I don't know how it feels until I go throw.
Ortiz writes that Luhnow "remains hopeful" that Crain can go on a rehab assignment by the end of May, when his 60-Day DL stint is up.
May 17: Crain throws a bullpen with 60-70% effort, "a sign that (he) is continuing on the right path." Crain:
It went good, good as I can expect right now...I was able to get through it, didn't have any setbacks. It was a positive, a step forward.
Drellich says that Crain wants to return to the Astros "sometime in June."
Non-roster invitee Peter Moylan:
To see what (Crain) was doing in Spring Training and the way he was playing catch - I played catch with him one day and the ball was coming out great - he's not far away, I'm sure.
May 29: Crain says rehab has "been the toughest thing he's been through in his career." According to the Chronicle, Crain had hoped to join the club in April, but bursitis set his rehab back:
I've been getting better every single day still, been off the mound three times and each time it's gotten better. Today was just not even a bullpen, that was just kind of getting out there and throwing a few. Which is a good sign that I can do that in between bullpen sessions...I'd say later June if I had to say a time. We have a schedule put out in pencil...sometimes you have to use your eraser and change things.
June 8: Mr. Crain goes on a road trip!
It's nice to be a part of the team, be able to travel and work with the coaching staff and the trainers up here. It creates more of a team atmosphere and makes me feel closer to being back.
Drellich writes that Crain threw a bullpen over the weekend, but everything "remains in pencil," and that he hopes to throw a simulated game "in the next week or so."
June 24: Luhnow says that Crain's (and Albers') return are still undetermined. Evan Drellich writes:
Crain was hopeful early in June he could return late in the month, although he made clear all along that rehabbing his shoulder following offseason surgery would be tricky.
July 23: Luhnow:
The good news is that there hasn't (sic) been any setbacks in a while. Everything is moving in the right direction. We're still not clear when we can get (Albers and Crain) out on a rehab assignment. They're both going to need to pitch some innings before they rejoin the club, hopefully, some time in the next couple of weeks.
August 4: The Chronicle reports that Crain's rehab is "known to be an arduous path" and that the operation Crain had in October "isn't common in baseball." A Noo-Yowerk doctor says that the recovery time of Crain's surgery is "typically six months." Luhnow responds:
There have been other players that have undergone it, but it's not a large number of players. So that was one of the pieces that we talked about prior to signing (Crain). We tried to understand the overall list, where because it's a relatively unproven surgery, we don't know how much time or success rate. Obviously, we thought it was a worthwhile gamble.