The bunch of good days Nate Jones has strung together include two in which he has played catch.
Five weeks after he had a micro discectomy to take pressure off his nerves and relieve back pain, Jones said Tuesday he feels like a normal person again. He can change his socks without pain and has had little trouble walking around. Now Jones’ focus is increasing his workload while being able to stay on the field.
The White Sox reliever hasn’t said what the timeline for his return is but believes he’ll pitch again in 2014.
“The goal is to stay healthy throughout,” Jones said. “I think we got through that first stage of just being a regular person and now it’s staying healthy and becoming a pitcher. I don’t know how long that’s going to take. We’ll take it one day at a time.
“(Monday) I tossed from about 50 or 60 feet and I think (Tuesday) we get to toss a little farther, maybe 70, 75 feet. We’ll just take a day at a time.”
Jones said he has been the team’s biggest cheerleader while he rehabs. That includes keeping his wife awake late last week when the White Sox were in California. Jones has remained as close to his teammates as possible, though that has been somewhat difficult because he’s not traveling and sitting in the bullpen during games.
He has found it equally hard pacing himself in his recovery, though that aspect has improved.
“That was one of the tougher parts: I’d feel like I could move a little better, and then all of the sudden I’d try to move and I caught a little stinger and I would try to back off of it a little bit,” Jones said. “You definitely have to listen to your body and guys who have done it before. Trainers, they have had guys who have surgery before, so they know what they’re talking about.”
Jones is content to govern himself now. And as much as the season has been disappointing, he’s not ready to call it a lost year.
Jones appeared in two of the team’s first three games and has been on the 15-day disabled list ever since.
“It sucks that happened, obviously,” Jones said. “Getting hurt, nobody likes it. But it’s just something you have to deal with, get over it and stay healthy the rest of the time. There’s still time left in the year and I want to come back and do the best I can in that time.”