Jesse Crain is staying positive about his latest injury setback.
The Toronto-born relief pitcher told Houston reporters at the team’s spring training site in Kissimmee, Fla., on Thursday that he doesn’t feel his timetable has been altered by a strained right calf suffered earlier in the week.
Crain was already expected to miss opening day April 1 against the New York Yankees and return to the lineup later in the month after recovering from off-season biceps surgery.
“My real goal is to be able to throw in at least a game or two in spring training,” he told reporters earlier this month. “If I can get to that point, I’m really close. If it’s not the beginning of the season it will be a week or two after.”
Crain played catch on Saturday.
“It’s just a Grade 1 strain,” said Crain of his calf. “The biggest thing for a strain is that you let it calm down.”
When healthy, the 32-year-old is considered by many to be the best closer option for the Astros, who finished last in the American League West last season with a 51-111 record.
In the last two years, Houston has blown 48 saves in 111 chances for a major league-low 56.8 conversion percentage.
Crain, a former pitcher at the University of Houston, signed a one-year free-agent contract with the Astros for $3.25 million US.
The Tampa Bay Rays acquired him in a trade with the Chicago White Sox on July 29. Crain was told he would probably be pitching by the end of August but never appeared in a game for the Rays.
Crain posted a 2-3 record and 0.74 earned-run average in 38 games for Chicago last season and was named an all-star for the first time in his 10-year major league career.