A strain delay for White Sox reliever Nate Jones
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN Staff Reporter February 15, 2014 11:33PM
White Sox closer candidate Nate Jones will be sidelined the next few days with a gluteus muscle strain. | Hunter Martin/Getty Images
Updated: March 17, 2014 11:58AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Right-hander Nate Jones, perhaps the leading candidate to assume the White Sox’ closer duties in 2014, will be sidelined well into the first week of camp with a mild-to-moderate gluteus muscle strain.
‘‘He will be held out of activity for the next few days,’’ general manager Rick Hahn said Saturday, the first day of spring training. “We will re-evaluate sometime in the middle of next week to come up with a plan.’’
Hahn and manager Robin Ventura said there was no need at this early stage in camp to rush Jones, so they are being cautious.
“You have a whole spring to figure it out,’’ Ventura said. “Right now, you want him to be 100 percent healthy, feel free and confident.’’
Jones spoke to the media but didn’t mention the strain. He said he wants to be the closer — the Sox traded Addison Reed during the offseason for third-base prospect Matt Davidson — after being a setup man the last two seasons.
“Absolutely,’’ Jones said. “You want to be that guy to be counted on for those last three outs because those are pretty important. You want to step up and have that role. It is the role you want.’’
Venezuelan righty Ronald Belisario, signed as a free agent, has visa problems and isn’t expected back till next week. It’s the third time in four years that he’ll be late.
“We should know more Wednesday or Thursday,’’ Hahn said.
Flowers will do it his way
Catcher Tyler Flowers said his right shoulder, which plagued him last season and led to surgery, is 100 percent. Flowers couldn’t say how the shoulder affected his offense, which was below expectations his first year as the starter. He lost the job at midseason.
“I’m just excited that the pain is gone and I don’t have to deal with that this year,’’ he said.
Flowers, who hit .205, suggested that listening to numerous voices about his hitting complicated things more than clarified them.
“I’m not going to be rude to the other coaches,’’ he said. “Everybody is here to help everybody be better, but there comes a point where you become so uncomfortable and you get so many directions, you lose who you are and what feels good to you. That’s more of where I’m at right now. I’m not just going to change everything just to please other people. I’ll be comfortable and do, for the most part, what I want to do unless lack of success dictates a change.’’
It seemed like yesterday that Chris Sale was a rookie. Now he’s the ace and leader of the pitching staff. “I want people to feel comfortable enough to approach me — new guys, young guys, old guys, whatever it is,’’ Sale said. “If they have questions I can answer, I’m there for them.”
◆ Belisario was the only one of 36 pitchers and catchers who did not report.