By Joe Cowley–
Further evidence that Ken Williams doesn’t mess around when it comes to adding to the on-the-field product was offered up by newly-signed White Sox reliever Jesse Crain on Monday.
Crain, who was officially introduced as the newest South Side resident after signing a three-year, $13-million deal, said he had been negotiating with Boston and Colorado the last few weeks, before Williams swooped in with a phone call last Tuesday and had the deal done by Wednesday.
“It wasn’t something I was expecting, but it’s something I’m really excited about,’’ Crain said. “[By giving a third year] they showed they were really serious and that they really wanted me.’’
And if that means leaving the Minnesota Twins to go sleeping with the enemy, so be it. Then again, Crain said the team he came up with was never in the running to keep the free agent in the Twin Cities.
“As for the Twins, I’m not exactly sure what direction they’re going,’’ Crain said. “They like to build from within, but with that said, I don’t know what they will do. There are a couple of prospects coming up, but they don’t have a lot of experience. It will definitely be interesting to see how it will play out. Losing me and [reliever Matt Guerrier to the Dodgers] will hurt them.
“The Twins were never really in the running – surprisingly or unsurprisingly. They weren’t looking to sign a guy for more than $3.5 million a year. They were out from the beginning and we didn’t even negotiate with them. They have been smart with the way they do things, but we’ll see.’’
Under the terms of the deal, Crain will make $4 million in 2011 and then $4.5 million in 2012 and ’13. The 29-year-old righty went 1-1 with a 3.04 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 71 appearances with Minnesota in 2010. He compiled a 0.28 ERA in 35 games from June 10-August 31, including a streak of 21 consecutive scoreless appearances (20.0 IP) from June 12-August 4.
As far as what he will now do for the Sox, Crain said he spoke to Williams and he will see a lot of action in the late innings, even getting an opportunity to close.
“From what Kenny Williams said, they have [Chris] Sale and they have [Matt] Thornton – two big lefties that throw hard at the end of the game,’’ Crain said. “Then they have me and [Sergio] Santos from the right side. They said I would have opportunities to close, but we’ll see how it all works.’’
The Sox are banking on it to work out real well, as they look to finally exorcise the demon that is the Minnesota Twins. Crain might want to circle May 3-4 on his calendar – the first meeting between the division rivals in 2011.
“It’s going to be weird,’’ Crain added. “I came up with the Twins. I’m very good friends with a lot of guys there. They have an idea of what I do, I have an idea what they can do. It’s going to be fun, weird, all those things.’’