HOUSTON -- The schedule is written in pencil, because if there's anything Jesse Crain has learned over the past few months, it's that things can change. Still, the veteran reliever maintains that he's on the path to recovery following biceps tendinitis surgery performed in October.
Crain rejoined his teammates on Thursday after working out for a couple of weeks in Kissimmee, Fla., where he threw off a mound three times without any issues. The Astros had hoped that he would be pitching in games, either on a Minor League rehab assignment or with the big league club, by this time, but he's targeting a late June return.
"We're still taking it day by day, and we have the schedule put in pencil because of all the things we've been through," Crain said. "Sometimes you have to easily erase and change things. I'm feeling good about it. Before I didn't really know what to say, but now I'm starting to feel good about it. That's a good sign."
Crain was an All-Star in 2013, a season in which he posted a 0.74 ERA in 38 games with the White Sox, striking out 46 and walking only 11 in 36 2/3 innings, including a 29-innings scoreless streak. He didn't pitch after being traded to the Rays on July 29 because of the tendinitis. He's also had a bout with bursitis.
"It hasn't gone as smoothly as I would have liked," he said. "It's definitely the hardest thing I've gone through in my career."
Crain would like to throw three or four bullpen sessions and two or three simulated games to face hitters. If those go well, he would go on a short rehab assignment of one week to 10 days, throwing in consecutive games once.
"It's more how I react to all that," he said. "You want to make sure you're able to bounce back and help the team."