Rays’ Jesse Crain encouraged by latest bullpen session

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A bullpen session for Tampa Bay Rays reliever Jesse Crain went well Tuesday, and the team will wait until Wednesday to determine his next step.

Crain, on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain, threw 36 pitches at Tropicana Field before the Rays opened a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox. The session included changeups and sliders, and he described his progress as “going in the right direction.”

“I kind of forced the issue to go a little further,” Crain said. “I was at 30 (pitches) and wanted to go six more, throw one of each pitch. I felt strong and felt like if I needed to, I could throw more. It’s not quite the same intensity as facing hitters, but I was able to get on it pretty good.”

The bullpen session Tuesday followed a successful bullpen session last Saturday. Crain said if he feels well enough Wednesday, it’s possible that he could face hitters late in the week.

The Rays gained Crain in a trade with the Chicago White Sox on July 29. He was named an All-Star for the first time this season, compiling a 0.74 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings of work this season. He was expected to add depth to Tampa Bay’s bullpen, but a slow recovery from the shoulder strain pushed back his return. If progress continues to be made, he could come back around the regular season’s final week.

“He was good,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He felt good. Everything went really, really well. It’s a positive next step.”

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