Nate Jones will be re-evaluated Friday in Kansas City, but he acknowledged a gluteal strain from spring training has resurfaced.
The White Sox reliever has been uncharacteristically wild in two outings this season, including walking two batters in Thursday’s 10-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. Both runners scored after Jones was removed.
Afterward, Jones said a gluteal strain that sidelined him at the start of spring training began to bother him again while he warmed up in the bullpen and distracted him on the mound. So far this season, Jones has allowed four earned runs, two hits and walked three without recording an out.
“I felt a little discomfort out there today,” Jones said. “It's kinda just in the back of your head. When you're thinking about something else besides hitting the mitt, then you see what happens. It's not good for the team.”
Jones had been in contention for the closer’s role with Matt Lindstrom and Daniel Webb, among others. White Sox manager Robin Ventura cited Lindstrom’s previous experience in the role as well as the flexibility Jones offers as reasons for the decision. Over the previous two seasons Jones has had 37 multi-inning performances for the White Sox.
But so far Jones hasn’t been that same dominant pitcher, and Ventura believes the injury is partly to blame.
“He hasn't been able to get it back,” Ventura said. “I know he said something's been bothering him. You have to be 100 percent to go out there and do it and having confidence in that. I think for Nate, something's in there that's bothering him (physically).”
The minute he arrived at spring training, Jones informed the team of his discomfort. He sat out the final two weeks of February and finally got into a game on March 8. Jones said the injury didn’t affect him over the rest of the spring. He made eight appearances and finished with a 2.35 ERA and eight strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings.
“Just felt the discomfort the same, it wasn't getting any better,” Jones said. “Absolutely it is (frustrating). Like I said, I got a little treatment today, and we'll see how it feels tomorrow. That's all we can do.”