Nate Jones admits he has never endured such “extreme” struggles at any point in his professional career.
Though the White Sox reliever has identified his issues -- he’s not getting ahead of hitters and has had trouble commanding both his pitches at the same time -- Jones hasn’t been able to escape them.
The right-hander allowed three earned runs and four hits in an inning on Monday night to bring his ERA to 7.04 in 23 innings this season. Though he has struggled, pitching coach Don Cooper is confident Jones, who has allowed a run in six of his last 10 appearances, will turn it around.
“Nate’s going to be fine,” Cooper said. “We’ve got some things to do. Nate’s struggling and Nate’s struggling more with consistent strikes and consistently bringing out two pitches to the game. We’ve got to get him back. His innings are valuable.”
Jones is fully aware two other relievers, Donnie Veal and Deunte Heath, have endured struggles this season and were demoted to the minor leagues earlier this month. But based on Jones’ track record, his 2.31 ERA in 2012, including a 0.86 ERA over his final 30 appearances, the right-hander has been given an extended chance to solve his dilemma.
“They can tell that I’m going through a bad time right now,” Jones said. “I appreciate everything I get. Don’t take anything for granted because it can be taken away from you. (I haven’t experienced) something that has been like this. Obviously I’ve had ruts and all that stuff, but nothing to this extreme.”
The White Sox have a ready-made answer at Triple-A Charlotte: veteran Ramon Troncoso has a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings and there’s an open spot on the 40-man roster. But Cooper gave Jones a vote of confidence while acknowledging a turnaround is needed.
“We still believe in him,” Cooper said. “We’re still backing him. But we do need to see some production. I look at it when we get Nate going we’re going to be stronger. We’ve got 11 guys going and Nate’s not clicking the way he wants to or the way we want him to but that could be an outing away.”
Danks likes the familiarity
For the first time this season, with the exception of a few fleeting hitters here and there, John Danks will face a lineup full of major leaguers on Wednesday when he pitches against the Cubs.
Danks’ first start in the majors last week came against the Miami Marlins, whose lineup only had two familiar faces: Placido Polanco and Miguel Olivo. Danks likes the idea of knowing who he’s facing even though he knows it’s a lineup full of major league hitters.
“I have a pretty good idea what I’ve done well against them and where I need to stay away from,” Danks said. “More than anything, the minor leagues, aside from a few guys in Triple-A, you really didn’t recognize any names so you just kind of pitched to them all the same. Based a lot of your stuff on where you were in the lineup rather than who the guy was himself. It’s easier in some regards, but those are big league hitters and you have to be smart with them.”
Sox reflect on Yocum
Hours after the news of the passing of Dr. Lewis Yocum, one of baseball’s famed surgeons, Jake Peavy and manager Robin Ventura reflected on his impact on the game.
“I don’t know how quite they do it for Hall of Fame stuff, but if you’re looking at people who affected the game, he affected the game,” Ventura said.
Peavy remembers a visit he made to Yocum’s Southern California office back in 2009 for an ankle injury. He recalls how personable and warm Yocum -- a team doctor with the Angels for 36 years who died over the weekend after battling liver cancer --- was with patients.
“He was very straightforward but very gentle in the way he went about talking to you because he understood the situation,” Peavy said. “He was very personal, I think, with each individual, no matter how big the name was or small the name was, or how minute the injury was or how major the injury was. He never put himself on a pedestal as certainly he could have with the name and the clout that he had.”