CHICAGO -- Alexei Ramirez hasn't gotten off to a great start at the plate this season -- entering Thursday hitting only .208 -- but that doesn't mean the White Sox shortstop hasn't impressed first-year manager Robin Ventura.

Ramirez entered Thursday's series finale against the Indians having committed only one error despite mostly playing in the usual early-season Midwest conditions.

"He's good. He's lanky. He's got a lot of coverage. He gets to a lot of balls," Ventura said. "Here, it's just one of those where you play in the part of the country where it's wet a lot. It's not easy to play here just because of the conditions. ... He makes plays whether it's cold, wet, warm. He makes difficult plays."

Injured Crain making progress

CHICAGO -- White Sox reliever Jesse Crain said he threw 10-15 pitches off flat ground Thursday and felt like his strained left oblique is "working its way out."

It was the second time Crain, who is on the disabled list, retroactive to April 21, has thrown since going on the DL. He also threw on Tuesday.

"The other day, when I was done throwing, it felt pretty tight and sensitive, but today it doesn't feel quite like that," Crain said. "I think it's a step forward."

Crain said he plans to throw off flat ground again on Friday and perhaps throw off the mound on Saturday. He's eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, but Crain and manager Robin Ventura said that's unlikely to happen, adding the the right-hander will need one or two Minor League rehab appearances before returning to the White Sox.

"With the DL and everything else, you make sure he's going to be healthy when he comes back here," Ventura said. "I don't want him to do something here and then get pushed back another 15 [days]."

Although Crain said he's disappointed he won't be able to return Sunday, he said he's pleased he's now throwing and nearing a return.

"It's definitely changing every day, and I think I'm close," Crain said.

Fukudome, Escobar start against Masterson

CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura posted a lefty-heavy lineup for Thursday's series finale against Indians starter Justin Masterson, who handcuffs right-handed batters.

Righties are hitting only .184 against Masterson in five starts this year, compared to a .281 average for left-handed batters.

Because of that, outfielder Kosuke Fukudome and third infielder Eduardo Escobar started in place of Dayan Viciedo and Brent Morel, respectively.

"It's a chance to get [Fukudome] in there," Ventura said. "I don't like him sitting for two and three weeks at a time. Just a chance to get him in there and see some action.

"Fukudome pinch-hit last night, but Escobar needs to get in there and play. It's not like he's going to be playing there for a week straight, but I need him to at least get some time in there."

Thursday marked the sixth start this season for both Fukudome and Escobar.

Worth noting

• First baseman Paul Konerko entered Thursday needing one hit to pass Eddie Collins for sole possession of fourth place on the White Sox all-time hit list. Konerko has 2,007 career hits with the White Sox.

• After hitting only three home runs with 12 RBIs in 38 games against the Indians in 2011, catcher A.J. Pierzynski entered Thursday with three homers and seven RBIs in four games against Cleveland this season.

• According to STATS LLC, right-handed reliever Addison Reed entered Thursday having made 11 straight scoreless appearances to start the season (spanning 8 2/3 innings), tied with Matt Karchner (1995) for the second-longest streak by a White Sox rookie reliever to open a season since 1921. Sergio Santos set the record with 12 appearances in 2010.

"He's got good velocity and location. He's got great presence on the mound," Ventura said of Reed. "He's easy to call on."