PHILADELPHIA -- It has been an interesting first half for White Sox reliever Jesse Crain.
His 0.74 ERA over 38 games leaves the right-hander as one of the most dominant relievers in all of baseball. It was impressive enough to get Crain his first All-Star selection, as voted in by his peers.
But Crain also is in the last year of a three-year deal, and the impending free agent has heard his name in numerous trade rumors with the White Sox sitting out of playoff contention. All of those factors have been pushed aside, though, while Crain works his way back from a right shoulder strain that sent him to the disabled list retroactive to June 30.
"I'm not thinking about trades right now. I'm worried about getting healthy," Crain said. "That's kind of gone on the back burner. I'm not worried about that or free agency. I'm worried about getting better and making my arm better.
"That's quieted all the other fronts. That's one way of looking at it."
Crain played catch for a fourth straight day early Friday at Citizens Bank Park and reported that he has made progress each day. He's still trying to get the strength back and feel good when he throws, maintaining a day-to-day prognosis to see how he feels.
An original goal at the time of the injury was for Crain to return right after the All-Star break. That might not be possible, especially with White Sox manager Robin Ventura looking for Crain to go on a Minor League rehab assignment.
"You want him to pitch in a game. The adrenaline is different than side work, so it's like [injured starting pitcher] Jake [Peavy]," Ventura said. "Last year, he did it that way. I think he threw a simulated game in Toronto and felt it was good enough. It's one of those to make sure he's right."
"I feel when I'm healthy I can throw a simulated game and be ready to compete, but that's not my decision," Crain said. "I'll wait until I'm at that point until we decide."
With a little pain still existing when Crain throws, he's on the border of throwing to get better but not pushing the injury too far.
"Hopefully, every day gets better," Crain said. "It has, but not yet where I want to push it."