KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The White Sox already have a significant adjustment to make in the bullpen after Nate Jones was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday.
The right-hander — a key piece to the team’s plans who has made 37 multi-inning appearances the past two seasons — is out with a left hip muscle strain that is related to the gluteal strain he suffered early in spring training.
Now the White Sox have to find a way to get around the absence of perhaps the most trusted reliever in the bullpen aside from closer Matt Lindstrom. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Friday that rookies Daniel Webb and Maikel Cleto would handle some of the load in the higher-leverage situations Jones normally holds. The White Sox also promoted reliever Jacob Petricka from Triple-A Charlotte to fill out the bullpen.
“The way (Webb and Cleto are) throwing, you just move them up,” Ventura said. “With bullpens you’re always going to have guys that are tired and something happens, a little twinge and you’re going to have to have a lot of guys come in and be able to fill that in. It’s happened like that the last couple of years for us and we’ve always been able to find a guy like Petricka to come up here and fill in and do a good job. He’s going to have to do that. You’re going to have to find it.”
Ventura suspects Jones wasn’t 100 percent after he returned from his gluteal strain even though Jones — who retired none of the five batters he faced in two games this season — struck out eight batters and had a 2.70 ERA in 7 2/3 innings in Cactus League play. Ventura could tell something wasn’t quite right when Jones issued three walks in an exhibition game in Scottsdale on March 23, 15 days after he returned to action.
Jones said he felt discomfort during his outing Thursday and was removed after he walked the only two batters he faced. He got treatment and was to be re-evaluated Friday, but the White Sox determined it was best to leave Jones in Chicago.
“Every once in a while a guy will be erratic but it was probably a little more consistent than you’d see out of Nate,” Ventura said. “It never looked right, even when he came back in spring training. You’re thinking it would kind of go away and it didn’t. Something must be in there to make him throw like that. … It’s just better to put him on the DL and get him healthy. You can’t have a guy going out there unless he’s feeling right, and if he feels discomfort you can do a lot of damage trying to adjust and do something else.”
A second-round pick in the 2010 draft, Petricka went 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in 16 games last season. He struck out 10 batters in 19 1/3 innings. Ventura has had Petricka in big league camp in three straight springs and said he can see a more confident pitcher, a point to which the rookie righty agreed.
“I felt good,” Petricka said. “I gave up a couple homers, but in Arizona that can be partly bad pitch and partly air, but I felt good and confident in my pitches, so I’m ready for the season. … I knew I had a shot to get up here soon. I just had no idea it could be this soon, but I’m open for the challenge and ready to go.”