Jones' Winter Workout Pays Off
White Sox righty goes from Double-A to the big leagues
CHICAGO—The biggest surprise of the White Sox's spring training camp got a head start on most of his competition. Righthanded reliever Nate Jones, who never pitched above Double-A Birmingham, made Chicago's Opening Day roster.
According to Jones, his ascent ran deeper than his return to the bullpen after the 2010 season.
"What helped me out a bunch was that I went out and played winter ball," said Jones, who was 1-1, 2.45 with 16 strikeouts in 15 innings for Mayaguez of the Puerto Rican League. "I didn't have that big four-month period where I wasn't throwing and having to find my arm slot. I went to play winter ball and kept my arm in shape and kept that arm slot and did all right, and I'm trying to transfer that this spring."
Jones, who had a 3.27 ERA in 42 appearances for Birmingham last summer, said he never thought about pitching in winter ball until Mayaguez officials called. Jones received permsission to pitch this winter from Buddy Bell, the Sox's vice president of player development and special assignments, and Del Matthews, an assistant director of player development and scouting.
Jones had a 1.86 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 10 innings this spring, outlasting several of the pitching prospects the Sox acquired this winter in trades.
"There's a great group of guys here," said Jones, a fifth-round draft pick of the Sox in 2007 out of Northern Kentucky. "Everyone roots for each other, and that's all we can hope to do—make it a tough decision for them."
Jones has grown on White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper.
"He's a big arm," Cooper said. "We like his arm. He's throwing well and we like his arm and his stuff. Over the past few years, he's made a jump in a lot of different ways and he seems to have matured a lot more as a pitcher. "
• The Sox acquired outfielder and former Phillies first-round pick Greg Golson from the Royals for cash considerations.
• The White Sox released righthander Dexter Carter, whom they traded to the Padres as part of the Jake Peavy deal in 2009 but re-acquired after he was released by San Diego following the 2010 season. Carter went 3-5, 6.65 for low Class A Kannapolis last season.