GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Jesse Crain still doesn't seem worried about his slightly strained right oblique, despite not pitching since being scratched last Wednesday.
And White Sox manager Robin Ventura, taking his cue from head athletic trainer Herm Schneider, remains optimistic about a return in the near future for the right-handed reliever. It's a day-to-day process for Crain, who played catch on Monday, but even in a perfect recovery will fall short of his desired amount of Cactus League appearances to get ready for the season.
"I would like to get at least 10 in," said Crain, who gave up two runs over three innings in three games before suffering the injury. "But depending on how many more I can get, I'm at the point where I can throw some 'pens and throw to some hitters and I think I can be all right.
"We are trying to see how I can get better. I want to get out there obviously as soon as possible, but you know it's how I feel each day coming in whether I can make the next step."
Crain hoped to play catch again on Tuesday's off-day, but that could be moved back to Wednesday. Having never suffered such an injury before, he has no idea how long he will be out of action.
"Hopefully, it will be tomorrow," said Crain of his return. "But I really don't know."
Any sort of prolonged absence for Crain makes it less and less likely that he would open the 2012 season as the White Sox closer. That seemingly leaves the competition between southpaw Matt Thornton and rookie Addison Reed, who threw another scoreless inning in Monday's 1-0 loss to the Reds, with Thornton having the edge.
The main focus for Crain simply is getting healthy and getting back on the mound to break camp with the team, regardless of the role.
"If you're getting four days away from the season opening up, you'd be concerned and take precautions against that and get some other guys," Ventura said. "But I'm still with Herm. If he's still telling me I got nothing to worry about, I have nothing to worry about."