GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Nate Jones continues to progress but he’s not likely to appear in the White Sox first week of spring training games.
Jones, who is one of the team’s top closer candidates, said he no longer feels any of the effects of a gluteal strain that kept him sidelined and made him the butt of teammates’ jokes for the first week of camp. The right-hander threw his third bullpen session of the spring on Wednesday and said he has begun to step up his energy level.
Even so, manager Robin Ventura said Jones is roughly a week behind the rest of his teammates. The White Sox open Cactus League play against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.
“I would say that’s a fair assessment,” Ventura said. “He’s not going to be going out there real early. He’s got to build it up, just like everybody else has when we’re here. But we have a lot of time. Even last year especially, he was ready to go probably a week before we left here. It will be fine. I’m not worried about him.”
Even though he didn’t enjoy being sidelined, Jones shares Ventura’s confidence he’ll be ready in time for the regular season. Jones hasn’t faced any hitters yet but is taking his rehab in stride. The White Sox host the Minnesota Twins in their regular season opener on March 31.
“It’s completely gone,” Jones said. “They just want to take it as slow as possible because we still have playing time in the spring. That’s why we have increased it just a little at a time…We’re still doing fine and once we start playing the games I think I’ll be right where I need to be.”