Crain on returning from strained adductor muscle

WASHINGTON -- Apparently a full Spring Training of work is not necessary for a veteran hurler such as Jesse Crain at this point in his career. Crain was limited to four exhibition appearances, including three in the last week, because of a strained right adductor muscle.

Crain did enough in that final week to break camp with the team and fanned four over three scoreless innings during his first four regular-season appearances.

"I didn't really want to cut it that close. But maybe I figured something out," said Crain with a laugh. "Maybe I don't need to throw too much during spring and waste all my bullets. I don't ever want to have to go through an injury, but I'll talk to [pitching coach Don Cooper] if I'm here next year about scheduling.

"We've been playing for a long time and every year you kind of learn how your body is. This Spring Training, the last Spring Training, they showed me a lot about what I needed. This Spring Training showed me even more about it. I know myself better now than I did when I was younger. I think that always helps, too."

Being more consistent with his mechanics also makes a difference for the 10-year-veteran.

"My delivery, if I fly open, I know what I'm doing," Crain said. "So far it has worked out pretty good. I'm still just maintaining [the adductor] right now. But it hasn't bothered me one bit. Pitching in that cold weather [in Chicago] and I got through that. I feel great."

Crain's scoreless streak ended during Thursday's 7-4 loss to the Nationals when he allowed one run on two hits in the eighth inning.

Thigpen filling in as White Sox pitching coach

KC@CWS: Flowers goes yard in the third inning

WASHINGTON -- White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper missed his third straight game as he recovers from a case of diverticulitis at Inova Hospital in northern Virginia.

Cooper will not be with the team for the rest of the 10-game, three-city road trip to Cleveland and Toronto because he will continue his recovery at home in Nashville once released from the hospital. Bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen will serve as pitching coach in his absence, with Curt Hasler, the organization's pitching coordinator, joining the team in Cleveland to assist Mark Salas in the bullpen.

"[Hasler] is a guy who has been around at least as long as I've been here. Everyone seems to respond pretty well to him, too," White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers said. "The communication is still open with Coop and Thiggy and everybody.

"We just kind of talked about the game plan. Coop goes over the scouting reports every day, that's more so what we go by. He always has good tidbits and extra information, too. I'm sure Thiggy is well educated in that department as well."

Thigpen replaced Juan Nieves as the White Sox bullpen coach for the 2013 campaign, with Nieves getting the pitching coach job in Boston, but previously served four years as pitching coach for Class A Winston-Salem (2009-11) and Double-A Birmingham (2012). His goal simply is to keep everything running the way it has been, with a bullpen featuring an American League-leading 1.80 ERA and ranking second with an opponents' average of .198 entering play Thursday.

"The only difference is the simple fact he's not here. We talk every day. We're going to talk tomorrow, obviously," Thigpen said of Cooper. "Thankfully, he's feeling a little bit better. The quicker he can get back, the better. He's part of the team, the pitching coach. It's weird. Basically, we talk about the same stuff, keeping the guys on the same track they're on."

"You never know what's coming," White Sox manager Robin Ventura. "It's one of those, the game never stops. Guys with injuries and getting sick, it's tough."

Flowers quipped that life is a little different without Cooper "yapping" in his ear between innings, either positive or negative.

"Thiggy is starting to get the hang of it," said a smiling Flowers. "He was yapping at me yesterday a little bit. Hopefully, Coop recovers well and quickly."

Third to first

• The White Sox have been in first place for eight of 10 days this season after leading the American League Central for 117 days in 2012.

• With 884 quality starts since 2003, the White Sox are tied with the Angels for the Major League lead during that time.