ARLINGTON -- White Sox reliever Jesse Crain was sidelined from June 24 to July 20 with a right posterior shoulder strain, so it's only logical that his first few appearances off the disabled list weren't as sharp as the veteran would have liked. Crain bounced back Saturday night to throw a scoreless seventh inning, striking out two and stranding runners at first and third.
"It's still kind of a work in progress," Crain said. "It was something that happened in my shoulder, so now it's trying to get that strength all the way back. I'm still kind of working on getting that strength.
"Even last night, I felt a little erratic but I was able to throw the pitches when I needed. It's still a work in progress. I'm getting better each time out and my shoulder is getting stronger. I'm pretty close."
Rotation depth eases Sale, Quintana workloads
ARLINGTON -- The addition of Francisco Liriano has produced a six-man White Sox rotation for the short term.
And that starting adjustment should especially benefit rookie Jose Quintana and first-year starter Chris Sale, whose innings totals are being watched in this dual contending/developmental season for the South Siders. Sale started Friday against the Rangers and earned the victory, but he also topped out at 92 mph velocity-wise.
Sale reiterated Sunday that he feels fine, aside from some arm fatigue as he quickly moves toward a new single-season innings high. With that fatigue in mind, Sale's start in Minnesota will be skipped Wednesday and it's not known exactly when the left-hander will return to the mound.
"Going through a little dead-arm period, I guess. Nothing terrible, nothing anyone else doesn't go through," said Sale, who has a 2.61 ERA in 124 innings. "We all feel this is something that's going to benefit us and benefit myself, a few extra days off so the next couple months we can make a push and get after it."
"I would say it's probably fatigue and being tired. There's no pain or anything in there," said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Sale. "We'll see how that sits when we're in Minnesota and how he feels and how he does in between his starts. Nothing's changed as far as how we started to treat him and how we treat him now. We're just trying to take care of them."
A break was given to Sale from May 2-11, aside from one relief appearance, when it was thought elbow soreness would move the southpaw into the closer's role. Sale talked his way back into the rotation and then was off from July 4-14, aside from his All-Star appearance.
In taking this big-picture approach to the season, the White Sox hope to have a regular five-man rotation and have all their starters fresh for the September stretch drive.
"Extra time would benefit everybody. Not only Chris, but Quintana," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "When we talk about Chris, we've got to include Quintana and to a degree, you have to add in the relievers in their first full year. But we're talking about the starters, so it definitely helps Chris, Quintana, but it helps everyone. Once these [three August] off-days are done, we're going to be going."
"We're trying to be as strong as we can when getting into September," Ventura said. "That you're rolling with five guys and you're rolling with the five best guys."
GM says surgery 'worst case' for Danks
ARLINGTON -- One day after John Danks suggested to MLB.com that surgery was a possible option to correct his left shoulder strain, general manager Ken Williams referred to that idea as the "worst-case scenario."
"That was news to me when it was reported," Williams said. "It hadn't been discussed very lengthy. There's nothing in there that doctors can identify that actually warrants that. Could he possibly have surgery? Yeah. So can I."
Danks responded to questions from MLB.com about reaching a point in this ongoing rehab program where he might not be able to come back for 2012. At that point, the veteran southpaw wanted to make sure he was ready to contribute for 2013.
"No one wants to be cut on, but if what we are doing is not working, then you have to look at other options," said Danks of an injury that "hasn't gotten a ton better" in nine weeks. "There definitely comes a point where we definitely have to start thinking about next year. If we don't start making some drastic improvement, we might have to do something."
Williams remains optimistic Danks will return in 2012. The Francisco Liriano move shows the White Sox are more than prepared in case he doesn't.
Pierzynski to return to lineup Monday
ARLINGTON -- The plan for White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is to return Monday night from a five-game absence because of a mild right oblique strain. Pierzynski will catch Monday and Tuesday night at Target Field, and then have Wednesday afternoon off to give him a two-day break with Thursday's scheduled off-day.
Pierzynski took batting practice Sunday and felt ready to return, originally listed in the starting lineup, according to the catcher. But he was convinced to take another day off by manager Robin Ventura and head athletic trainer Herm Schneider.
"I obviously want to play. I keep telling Robin I want to play. He keeps telling me go away basically," said a smiling Pierzynski. "Yeah, it's kind of like I got another All-Star break here. But at the same time, I see both sides of it and I also understand there's a long way to go.
"Hurting it worse wouldn't do anybody any good. Just get it back to where we are over that hump and I can go four or five or six days in a row if I have to. Robin and everyone know that I can play. But they are trying to be extra cautious with two months left."
Third to first
The White Sox purchased the contract of utility infielder Rey Olmedo from Triple-A Charlotte to take the spot of Eduardo Escobar, who moved to the Twins in the Francisco Liriano deal. Olmedo, 31, will be viewed as more of a shortstop/third base option, while Orlando Hudson will handle the second base/shortstop backup role.
Alejandro De Aza remains of action with a sprained left wrist, but could return during the Twins series. Brian Bruney begins a rehab assignment for his strained left hip Tuesday with Triple-A Charlotte. The right-handed reliever, who has been sidelined since June 25, will throw one inning Tuesday and then two innings on Friday.
"It's positive that it gets better than staying the same or reverting worse," said Bruney, who threw his last bullpen session on Friday in Texas. "It's a positive step and I'm excited to get into a game atmosphere and face some hitters."