White Sox fans got nervous for a little while on Wednesday. That’s because during the team’s spring training game against the Arizona Diamondbacks that afternoon, which the Sox won 3-2, relief pitcher Nate Jones took a ball off of his right knee thanks to a Diamondbacks hit in the seventh inning. Jones was immediately tended to by the White Sox medical staff and was taken off the field after just 2/3 of an inning. He was seen limping afterwards. Considering Jones has overcome more serious injuries to be a stable part of the White Sox bullpen, you can’t blame the fans -or the team for that matter- for being nervous at that moment.
Thankfully the injury isn’t serious as Jones only sustained a knee bruise. But the team is listing him as day-to-day although they’ll probably keep him off the field for the time being. There are three reasons as to why the White Sox would keep Jones off the field for now…..
For starters, Jones is part of the Team USA roster for the World Baseball Classic which begins next week. While some Major League teams prefer that their players not participate in the WBC so as not to risk injury, rest assure that Jones would like to be completely healthy when he represents the United States in Miami. And with the never ending David Robertson trade rumors swirling around, the belief is that Jones will take over the closers role should Robertson be moved this season. Plus with the White Sox in rebuilding mode Jones is considered among the veterans on the team.
Last year Jones was completely healthy for the first time since the 2013 season. In 2016, Jones made 71 appearances and pitched a total of 70 2/3 innings. The 31-year-old finished the year with a 5-3 record to go with three saves, and a 2.29 earned run average. He struck out 80 batters, only walked 15, allowed 18 earned runs, and had a WHIP of 0.892. Jones is a reliable bullpen arm when healthy.
Jones’ return to the team will depend on how far Team USA advances in the World Baseball Classic. While each team has concerns about their players risking injury, the WBC is still baseball at the end of the day. Jones will still get his reps in, he’ll still get his share of innings, and he’ll be prepared for the upcoming season one way or another.
Taking this precaution now will not only allow Jones to heal, but it will also make sure he’s 100-percent by opening day.