Nate Jones would be lying if he said he didn’t prefer to be the White Sox closer.
He enjoyed the friendly competition he and the other members of the bullpen had this spring and hoped he’d pitch the ninth. But it would be a stretch to say Jones is overcome with grief by White Sox manager Robin Ventura’s selection of Matt Lindstrom as the team’s closer.
“The only thing that matters to me is I'm still on the team, still in the bullpen,” Jones said. “It’s just now our job is to get the ball to Matt with the lead for the ninth, so nothing’s changed. Still excited, still ready to rock and roll, get the season going.”
Jones’ spring got going a little later than planned after he missed the first portion with a gluteal strain that affected him from the outset. But the right-hander bounced back to pitch well as he struck out eight batters and posted a 2.35 ERA over seven Cactus League appearances.
Lindstrom, who missed much of the spring with a left oblique strain, was named the closer on Monday morning. He converted his first save try with a scoreless inning in the team’s 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins. Jones didn’t pitch but figures to be one of Ventura’s trusted arms.
“It’s something everybody wanted,” Jones said. “That’s why we had the competition. It just so happened Matt got healthy, he did well in the outings he had and he did well Monday as well. Our job now is to get the ball to him with the lead. … I’m willing to do whatever role they want me to do.”