ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays acquired right-hander Jesse Crain before the July 31 Trade Deadline knowing he was injured, but hoping he would boost their bullpen come September. But Crain, out since June 29 with a right shoulder strain, is recovering slowly enough to wonder whether he'll pitch at all for Tampa Bay.
Crain is playing catch, but hasn't progressed to throwing off the mound. He said Wednesday he'd like to throw from the mound four or five times before coming off the disabled list, and he's aware that he might be running out of time to do so if he hopes to pitch again this season.
"He's kind of stuck right now. It's not getting worse. It's not getting better," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We probably need to see some significant movement within the next week or so."
Crain will travel with the Rays on their upcoming 10-game road trip and said his goal is to throw a bullpen session at some point during that stretch. Before he can do that, he said he needs to be able to play catch "and not even think of my shoulder, be free and easy and not even think one thing about it." But he's not there yet.
Once he progresses to throwing off the mound, Crain said he would like to throw at least two bullpen sessions and a simulated game before determining if he's ready to return to game action. Whether he can do all of that within the next month, however, remains to be seen.
"I hope so, in my gut, yeah. I want to be ready. But it's day by day," Crain said. "So we'll see how I feel tomorrow. After throwing two days in a row, I have to wait and see how I feel tomorrow. Right now, our plan is not to throw tomorrow, give myself a day off and throw the next day.
"It's frustrating. We all wish we had a certain plan that we knew what it was. I think that's been the most frustrating thing. You can do as much as you can, but there's no answer to it. You've just got to try things and see how they go."
Crain, who will be a free agent after this season, was enjoying a career year with the White Sox before the injury, posting a 0.74 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings over 38 appearances.
Odorizzi looks to make most of opportunity in rotation
ST. PETERSBURG -- Pitcher Jake Odorizzi figured he might be a part of the Rays' September callup equation. He did not expect to be making his fourth start of the season in August.
The 23-year-old right-hander learned on Wednesday that he will toe the rubber Thursday against the Angels, a move necessitated by the demotion of Jeremy Hellickson. Additionally, Matt Moore is not quite ready to come off the disabled list (left elbow soreness). To make room for Odorizzi, the Rays announced left-handed reliever Jeff Beliveau will be optioned to Double-A Montgomery.
"He's been pitching well," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Odorizzi. "We thought that would be the right thing to do there."
Odorizzi's start lines up with Moore's next scheduled start and pushes ace David Price to the beginning of a key series with the Athletics on Friday, which kicks off a 10-game West Coast road trip.
Although Odorizzi's last start came in a 3-1 loss to the Red Sox on June 18, he allowed just one run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings.
Odorizzi said he felt his performance in Boston keyed a successful season with Triple-A Durham that saw him compile a 3.33 ERA with more than 100 innings pitched.
"Pitching in [Boston] is a lot different, but I thought if I could do it there, I could do it [in Durham]," he said. "It really showed. I'm happy to be back up here."
If Moore's return goes as planned, Odorizzi could be part of a three-man competition to be Tampa Bay's fifth starter with Roberto Hernandez and Hellickson.
"As you continue to move forward into that last month, you have no idea how it's going to play out," Maddon said. "We have a lot of different choices. Getting Jake involved tomorrow is important to us now and in the future."
De La Rosa still grateful for opportunity with Rays
ST. PETERSBURG -- Former Rays right-hander Dane De La Rosa pitched the ninth for the Angels Tuesday night, holding the Rays scoreless to come away with his second save of the season.
De La Rosa went to Spring Training with the Rays this year, but was traded for right-hander Steve Geltz on March 27.
De La Rosa had nothing but good things to say about the Rays after noting that getting a save against his former team meant more than it would against another team.
"Having these guys give me kind of my second chance, or fifth or sixth chance in baseball, it does mean more," De La Rosa said. "It's kind of like a full-circle kind of deal, being with them from my start going up to now being here. It's kind of cool."
After stints in the Yankees' and Brewers' organizations, the Rays signed him as a free agent on Nov. 11, 2009. He is 5-1 with a 3.45 ERA in 60 appearances this season.
"Absolutely they gave me a chance," De La Rosa said. "Stuff happens. But while I was here, I learned. This is a great organization, obviously, to learn pitching, just controlling the running game and stuff like that. Everything I learned, everything I did in this organization, I feel like it wasn't a waste. It was for something. Now this is, I guess, what it's for."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Sam Strong is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.