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Jesse Crain says calf strain shouldn't delay return to Astros

Toronto-born relief pitcher Jesse Crain told reporters at the Houston Astros' spring training site on Thursday that he doesn't feel his timetable has been altered by a strained right calf suffered earlier in the week.

Canadian RP also recovering from off-season biceps surgery

Former Rays reliever Jesse Crain, left, suffered a strained right calf at Astros spring training earlier this week. He doesn't feel the injury will further delay his return to open the season. He was already expected to miss the first two weeks of the season after recovering from off-season biceps surgery. (Chris O'Meara/Associated Press)

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.

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