Jones settling into groove in the Sox bullpen

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Jones settling into groove in the Sox bullpen

By Paul LaTour
CSNChicago.com contributor

If anything encouraging for the White Sox came from a 5-0 loss to Kansas City on Saturday, it might be the performance of rookie reliever Nate Jones.

Jones threw 2 13 innings in a near-perfect appearance after entering for starter Chris Sale to begin the sixth inning. Jones struck out four and allowed only one hit in the longest outing of his brief career. His strikeout total is also a career high.

Jones said he has settled the nerves he experienced early in the season.

Those first couple times, Im not going to lie, I was a little bit nervous coming in, he said Sunday prior to the Sox-Royals series finale at U.S. Cellular Field. Ive calmed down a little bit and learned to trust my stuff, and do my thing out there.

In 14 13 innings spread over 10 games, Jones has a 1.26 ERA with seven walks and 14 strikeouts. He has allowed 10 hits and only two earned runs. Opponents are hitting .196 against him.

He continues to improve, manager Robin Ventura said. Thats one of the things with the young guys we have, youre bringing them into situations that you want them to gain experience and the feel for it every time they go out. You can see him gradually getting that. Im gaining a lot of confidence in putting him in different situations.

Understanding his role in the bullpen has been a big reason why he's settled down.

After the fifth, sixth inning, I know to be ready, Jones said. Every game, it doesnt matter what the score is, Ive become accustomed to being ready, getting stretched out, and being ready for that phone call.

Jones worked in spring training to incorporate a changeup and curveball into his repertoire. But he said everything still works off his fastball.

Once I get my fastball established I come in and try to throw my offspeed for strikes, he said. When I do (that) it makes it a lot harder on the hitters. It keeps them off balanced.

Jones also benefits from his relative anonymity among American League hitters. But he knows it wont be long before that changes. He said a pitcher must work to stay ahead of those adjustments.

You definitely hold an advantage because nobody has seen you before, Jones said. But once they start making that adjustment to you, you have to start adjusting as well. When that time comes, Ill do that. For now Im just going to do what I do, go out there and throw strikes.

Bears awarded QB Connor Shaw off waivers from Browns

Bears awarded QB Connor Shaw off waivers from Browns

The Bears have added another quarterback to the mix as they have been awarded Connor Shaw off waivers from the Cleveland Browns.

The 24-year-old Shaw was waived by the Browns on Thursday after spending the past two seasons with the team.

Shaw reunites with his former Browns quarterback coach in Dowell Loggains — now offensive coordinator of the Bears. Shaw was also teammates in Cleveland with current Bears backup quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Shaw was signed as an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina by the Browns in 2014. He's made just one career start in a 2014 Week 17 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens in which he went 14/28 for 177 yards and an interception.

Shaw spent all of 2015 on injured reserve with a broken thumb.

White Sox 'impressed' with rookie Tim Anderson's start

White Sox 'impressed' with rookie Tim Anderson's start

Aside from Todd Frazier’s desire for a more vocal presence on the field, Tim Anderson’s play has brought few complaints so far.

The White Sox top prospect has flashed ridiculous speed, good hands and a strong arm at shortstop, and his aggressive bat has already made an impact. What’s more, the organization is more than satisfied with the maturity displayed by the 2013 first-round pick and his desire to improve.

To say the least, Anderson is off to a good start with the White Sox, who open a three-game series at Houston on Friday night.

“I've been impressed with Timmy,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He's a very confident kid. He's quiet, but there's some confidence and some inner-drive. He's not a showboat guy. He just goes out and plays and he's a hard-nosed kid.”

Anderson is hitting .314/.322/.512 with 10 extra-base hits, five RBIs and two stolen bases in his first 19 games. He has multiple hits in 10 contests, which is the most by a White Sox rookie through 19 games since Gus Zernial in 1949. Anderson also has produced three Defensive Runs Saved and is 0.7 Wins Above Replacement in his short time in the majors.

It hasn’t all been easy.

He struck out twice with the bases loaded late in a one-run loss at the Boston Red Sox on June 23. He also endured a 1-for-12 span almost immediately after he was promoted to the majors. And he has struck out 28 times in 88 plate appearances, a rate of 31.1 percent.

But even when he struggles, teammates say Anderson’s mood — quiet, upbeat and determined — has stayed the same.

“With Timmy doing what he’s doing, it’s nice to watch,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “I was telling Rick Renteria in the dugout, he doesn’t change one bit whether he’s bad or good. That’s the sign of a really great athlete.”

The ability to adapt has helped Anderson develop quickly.

[RELATED: Tim Anderson draws first walk of career]

One of the knocks on Anderson has always been that his tools are raw because he didn’t start to play until his junior year at Hillcrest High in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. With only four years of baseball experience when he was drafted, the White Sox expected to take their time with Anderson. Before this season, general manager Rick Hahn said Anderson might need all season at Triple-A Charlotte to refine his game.

But Anderson forced their hand.

“He's come a long way in the last couple years as far as just his instinctual stuff on the field and the inner timing of everything, that baseball clock in your mind,” Ventura said. “He's got it on spot.

“Just the ball off the bat, his reactions, his first step quickness. The first thing you really notice is how he moves. He's been great.”

Frazier agrees. He calls Anderson a catalyst at the top of the lineup as the White Sox have averaged 4.7 runs per game with him in the lineup. The team is 10-9 since Anderson arrived.

Frazier’s only point of contention with Anderson is in the field. But it’s all part of Frazier having fun with the rookie — “I bust his chops a lot,” he said.

“He doesn’t say much,” Frazier said. “I wish he would talk some more in the infield.

“Tell me if a guy’s stealing or not. Little things like that.”

Asked about Frazier’s ribbing on Thursday, Anderson started to smile. He recounted how the veteran informed him that the club planned to set aside the umpire, the pitcher and the ball for safe keeping after Anderson drew the first walk of his career.

Though he didn’t know what to expect at first, Anderson has started to find more comfort at the big league level. As for the on field-chatter with Frazier, that’s a work in progress.

“We are going to work on that,” Anderson said. “It’s coming.”

Joakim Noah posts Instagram picture wearing Knicks hat

Joakim Noah posts Instagram picture wearing Knicks hat

Joakim Noah doesn't have time for "unnamed league sources."

The former Bulls center posted a picture to his Instagram account on Friday afternoon of himself wearing a New York Knicks hat, indicating he has signed with the team as a free agent.

Jah bless

A photo posted by Joakim Noah (@stickity13) on

Indications since last night, when free agency began, were that Noah, who spent 10 seasons in Chicago, was going to sign with his hometown Knicks.

Last week the Bulls dealt Derrick Rose to the Knicks in a five-player deal. Noah and Rose have been teammates since Rose came into the league in 2008.