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Astros sign reliever Crain to bolster bullpen

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All-Star free agent right-handed reliever Jesse Crain agreed to a one-year deal with the Houston Astros on Tuesday as the team continues to improve its bullpen.

The Astros had signed veterans Chad Qualls and Matt Albers earlier this month.

Crain, 32, was an All-Star in a 2013 season in which he posted a 0.74 ERA in 38 games with the Chicago White Sox, striking out 46 and walking only 11 batters in 36 2/3 innings, including a 29-inning scoreless streak.

Crain was traded to Tampa Bay on July 29, but didn't appear in a game for the Rays because of a right shoulder strain. He is expected to be healthy for the start of spring camp after undergoing surgery.

"He passed our physical and we feel good about where he is," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "He had some biceps inflammation he had taken care of in October and has been rehabbing and should resume his throwing program in the next couple of weeks. I feel good about the timetable he's on, and he'll be able to contribute for a vast majority or all of the season."

Crain will join Qualls, Albers, Anthony Bass, Darin Downs and Raul Valdes as newcomers to an Astros relief corps. The Astros ranked last in the majors last season with a 4.90 bullpen ERA, and their 29 blown saves tied for most.

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