Rookie Nate Jones in, veteran Brian Bruney out of White Sox’ bullpen
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com March 31, 2012 8:32PM
Utility infielder Eduardo Escobar took the last position-player spot on the White Sox’ roster. | Mark Duncan~AP
• Catchers: Tyler Flowers,
Paul Konerko, Brent Morel, Alexei Ramirez
Alejandro De Aza,
Brent Lillibridge, Alex Rios, Dayan Viciedo
• Starters: John Danks,
Gavin Floyd, Philip Humber, Jake Peavy, Chris Sale
• Relievers: Jesse Crain,
Nate Jones, Will Ohman,
Zach Stewart, Matt Thornton
Updated: May 2, 2012 8:28AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Rookie right-hander Nate Jones is in, veteran Brian Bruney is out and the White Sox’ 25-man roster is set for Opening Day.
Utility infielder Eduardo Escobar, as expected, nailed down the last position-player spot as the Sox made six roster moves Saturday. Right-hander Dylan Axelrod was optioned to Class AAA Charlotte, and Bruney, left-handers Eric Stults and Leyson Septimo, veteran infielder Rey Olmedo and catcher Hector Gimenez were reassigned to minor-league camp.
Jones, who pitched a scoreless inning despite walking the first two batters he faced Friday, has a 1.69 ERA with 17 strikeouts and eight walks in 102/3 innings. Bruney was tagged for four runs in his first inning, but the Sox already had decided on Jones’ mid-to-upper-90s fastball, a curve ranked first in the organization and a developing changeup. General manager Ken Williams said he knew two weeks ago that Jones would have to pitch his way off the roster.
“He’s not out of nowhere for us,’’ Williams said.
Bruney congratulated Jones outside the clubhouse Saturday morning as Jones, 26, was about to share his good news.
“My wife was the first call, my dad was the second call,’’ Jones said. “They were screaming and hooting and hollering. It was a lot of fun.’’
Zach Stewart will be the long man, with Jones able to pitch in short and long relief, manager Robin Ventura said.
The promotions of Jones and Escobar follow Williams’ youth-infused, semi-rebuilding-phase plan that gives Hector Santiago and Addison Reed key relief roles.
Williams traded closer Sergio Santos’ contract in the offseason for pitching prospect Nestor Molina because of his confidence in Reed, Santiago and Jones.
“I know these names were not on the tip of every White Sox fan’s tongue, but we felt we could move Chris Sale into the rotation and still have a solid rotation building for the future while making moves to give us depth in the minor leagues,’’ Williams said. “People falsely — hopefully — are looking at our club and saying because they have youth, they’re not going to compete. This is a mistake. These are talented people, they’re confident and they have a lot of heart.’’
Said Ventura: “People get concerned, but I trust them and have gotten to know them, and they’re the best guys for the job.’’
Brent Morel had an MRI on his back and returned to the lineup after coming out of a game for the second time. He said it’s not a concern, but it bears watching.
“Nothing serious, just one of those things to stay on top of,’’ Morel said.
Conor Jackson signed
The Sox signed outfielder Conor Jackson, a 2003 Diamondbacks draft pick who batted .300 with 12 home runs and 75 RBI in ’08 but hasn’t been the same since a bout with valley fever in ’09. Released by the Rangers, he was assigned to Charlotte.