GLENDALE, Ariz. -– White Sox reliever Nate Jones will sit out activity in the first few days of spring training because of a mild-to-moderate glute strain.
Sox general manager Rick Hahn said Jones felt the injury at least a week prior to arriving at Camelback Ranch for the start of spring training Saturday. He expects to re-evaluate Jones’ condition in the middle of next week.
“We’re just trying to get the thing settled down and stay out in front of it before it becomes a real thing,” Hahn said. “We’re here for an extended period of time, so there’s no need to rush through anything.”
Jones is one of a few candidates to become the new Sox closer after the club traded Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks in the offseason. Hahn said it is too early to predict if Jones’ injury will have any impact on that race. The Sox have said Matt Lindstrom, Ronald Belisario and Daniel Webb are also options.
“Obviously he’s going to be a little bit behind, but in the end, particularly with relief pitchers, we need to stretch him out to all of one or two innings,” Hahn said. “Get him back-to-back work at some point, there’s plenty of time to still do that. But there has not been anyone anointed closer just yet, so it is an open competition, and this provides more opportunity for other guys to step up and fill the role.”
Jones said earlier Saturday that he wants the role, but he knows there are others who also want it.
“It just adds a little bit more motivation to it,” Jones said. “A spot’s open. Obviously we’re going to have a little battle and go after it.”
Belisario, a 31-year-old from Venezuela who signed as a free agent with the Sox this offseason, also missed the start of camp because of visa issues. He has an appointment Tuesday with Venezuelan officials regarding his visa. Hahn said the Sox hope to know more by Wednesday or Thursday.
“It’s not totally unforeseen that this was going to be a bit of a process,” Hahn said. “His agent has been working on it. Grace Zwit in our office has been working on it, as has Major League Baseball. We’re hopeful it will get resolved here in the next few days.”