Rehabbing reliever Jones eager to amp up rehab

White Sox right-hander expects to start throwing around Thanksgiving

Rehabbing reliever Jones eager to amp up rehab

CHICAGO -- Nate Jones seemed happy and healthy, exchanging hugs and greetings with teammates, as he returned to the White Sox clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday afternoon.

The right-handed reliever would have every reason to be a bit dejected, after not throwing a truly healthy pitch during the 2014 campaign.

Jones, who was projected to take over for traded closer Addison Reed coming into the season, battled through a hip problem in Spring Training that eventually was diagnosed as related to his back and resulted in a microdiscectomy in early May. While rehabbing from the back surgery, Jones sustained a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of July.

"It hit me really hard because it was the day before my bullpen," said Jones of the Tommy John surgery. "So it started out as this soreness or whatever, and then we started increasing everything and it turned into a burning sensation in my forearm. We shut it down, got it checked out and it was the worst-case scenario. But the doctors know what they're doing, so all fixed up now and feeling good."

Jones has no problems with his back at this point and hopes to start throwing the week before Thanksgiving. His goal is to return to action somewhere around the one year mark from the Tommy John surgery, focused on being better than ever.

"They told me, I think, the percent they gave me was an 85 percent chance of coming back just as strong, if not stronger," Jones said. "That gives hope too, along with working toward your goal of that year mark. A lot of motivation."

Instead of brooding over this string of misfortune, Jones simply seems happy to be around his teammates. He's thinking about being part of Paul Konerko's final weekend as a Major League player, and never once has thought, "Why me?"

"Absolutely not. I don't wonder 'Why me?' or anything like that. I roll with the punches," said Jones, who allowed two hits and issued three walks to the only five batters he faced this season. "It happens to everybody at some point or another. I've just got to deal with it, put it behind me and come back next year healthy.

"It's very nice to see teammates and the coaches, everybody. Just to see their faces and everybody before the offseason. To see Paulie, I mean this is Paulie's weekend, so I'm very blessed to be here for that."

Third to first
Avisail Garcia, who left Thursday's contest in the third with a stiff lower back, was out of Friday's lineup. White Sox manager Robin Ventura believes Garcia will play in one or both of the season's final two games.

Chris Sale was back with the team Friday after being excused from Thursday's contest for personal reasons. Sale declined to make any further comment on the his altercation with Victor Martinez and the Tigers from Wednesday, stating through a White Sox media relations representative that he wanted the focus to be on Konerko this weekend.

"Everything is good. He's here dressed out, running around doing all the same stuff," said Ventura. "He's fine. I think everything that transpired over the last couple of days, he's an emotional kid. We're good. It's not that big of a deal."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.