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Robin Ventura has been impressed by home-grown hurler Nate Jones

Sox third baseman Brent Morel makes backhstab grounder down line hit by Padres’ JasBartlett Wednesday.  |  Lenny Ignelzi~AP

Sox third baseman Brent Morel makes a backhand stab on a grounder down the line hit by the Padres’ Jason Bartlett on Wednesday. | Lenny Ignelzi~AP

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Updated: April 30, 2012 9:46AM



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — One of the more pleasant surprises of the spring is right-hander Nate Jones, a hard-throwing strikeout pitcher with a big curveball who could beat out a veteran such as Brian Bruney despite Bruney’s good showing.

“He has a big arm,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s one of the things he’s got, along with a curveball. You always like to see those guys go in there. ‘’

If the Sox want to see prospects drafted and brought up through their maligned farm system succeed, Jones might be worth a shot. He ranks among Cactus League strikeout leaders but he walked the first batter he faced in relief and gave up a hit before getting the third out in relief of Gavin Floyd in the Sox’ loss to the Rockies.

“That’s his biggest thing, his strike-throwing,’’ Ventura said. “You want to make sure he’s throwing strikes.”

On the closer watch, Hector Santiago was the last man standing on the mound Wednesday. The hope was to give the rookie left-hander a save situation, but the Rockies ruined that by scoring six runs in the sixth against Floyd.

Santiago struck out two, including Tyler Colvin, and walked one in a scoreless eighth. Addison Reed, another rookie candidate, struck out the batter he faced. Santiago and Reed are slated to work on consecutive days Thursday, so stay tuned as the Sox’ bullpen derby heads into the final turn. Matt Thornton pitched the ninth on Monday. Ventura said he’d discuss Thursday’s ninth with pitching coach Don Cooper.

Looks like Konerko

Red-hot Paul Konerko had three more hits Wednesday. The best thing for Konerko is that they’re his kind of hits.

“Down here you want to see yourself getting the kind of hits you’re accustomed to getting,’’ Konerko said. “I’m looking more like myself.’’

While it beats not hitting, Konerko is taking his .407 spring average in stride.

“No matter what you’re doing now whether it’s good or bad, you show up [next] Friday in Texas wondering what swing is going to show up. ‘’

Konerko says his best seasons were 2004 and 2010, “and both of those years after the last exhibition game I was in a cage just scrambling, just a mess,’’ he said.

“And then had a great year so I don’t know. Doing good [in Arizona] is better than doing bad. I know that.’’

Spring chicken

A.J. Pierzynski, 35, added a triple against the Padres on Wednesday to go with his four Arizona homers, one an inside-the-park job on Friday night. Not bad for a veteran with thousands of catching miles on his legs.

“I feel great physically,’’ Pierzynski said. “I feel just as good as I can.’’

The same goes for how he feels at the plate, noting that, “It’s a good feeling when you are hitting the ball and they are back­spun instead of rolling balls over to second base.’’

Broadcast news

The Sox announced that Hector Molina and analyst Billy Russo will serve as broadcasters on Spanish station ESPN Deportes, 97.5-FM.



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