Rays’ Jesse Crain throws live BP in effort to return

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Jesse Crain took another step toward his possible Tampa Bay Rays debut.

He tossed about 30 pitches in a live batting practice session, throwing against catcher Chris Gimenez, outfielder Sam Fuld and designated hitter Luke Scott at Tropicana Field before the Rays opened a four-game series against the Texas Rangers.

Crain, acquired by the Rays in a trade with the Chicago White Sox on July 29, has been on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain since he was brought to Tampa Bay.

The Rays will evaluate him Tuesday, and if all goes well, he could appear in the bullpen later this week. He last appeared in a game June 29 against the Cleveland Indians, when he allowed one run and three hits in one inning.

“I was a little worried coming into today just to see how I felt and how much I’d be able to let it go,” Crain said. “Getting out there and having a hitter and getting a little adrenaline, I felt pretty good. I’m happy with it.

“Time’s getting short, and I want to get out there as soon as we can. … Where we’re at right now in the season, we probably want to get me out there as soon as possible. That move will be made as soon as we feel comfortable with it.”

Crain, 32, could provide valuable bullpen depth. He was named an All-Star for the first time this season, and he posted a 0.74 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings before being placed on the disabled list with the strain.

A 10-year veteran, he owns a career 3.05 ERA with 440 strikeouts and four saves.

“Jesse was actually really good,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He felt better than he thought — a little bit of nervousness, which you would anticipate after having not pitched in awhile with everything that’s going on right now. But he said he felt pretty good once he got out there, and I think he kind of surprised himself.”

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