Nate Jones returned to the White Sox Tuesday after another arduous recovery from injury in a career that has been plagued by them.
The reliever had a 2.55 ERA, 27 strikeouts and four saves before being placed on the disabled list with a pronator muscle strain on his pitching arm. He last pitched a third of an inning against the Indians on June 12.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria watched him throw Monday.
“He was throwing the ball well,” he said. “Felt good; hitting his spots. Ball was coming off his hand pretty easy. So we’re happy for him. I think it’s been a long time coming. He’s been working very hard trying to get back.”
Jones has had a number of hard-luck injuries since the 2007 Sox draft pick joined the team in 2012. In 2014, hip and elbow injuries limited him to two appearances. He later had a microdiscectomy that May, and Tommy John surgery in July.
Recovery from Tommy John kept him out until August 2015, and he pitched in 19 games that season.
After making a career high 71 appearances in 2016, the hard-throwing right-hander was snake-bitten again the next season. Scar tissue from the Tommy John surgery built up, and Jones required another operation to reposition the ulnar nerve. He was limited to 11 games that season.
When Jones felt soreness in his right forearm in June of this season, the Sox believed it was a mild injury that would heal quickly, but that was not the case. Jones was making progress from the pronator muscle strain, but suffered a setback in July while pitching a bullpen session with Triple-A Charlotte.
He continued his recovery and did a rehabilitation assignment with Single-A Winston Salem that began last Wednesday.
Jones returned from the 60-day disabled list in time for Tuesday’s night game against the Royals in Kansas City, but the team had not indicated whether he would be available to pitch. His reactivation brings the Sox’s active roster to 32.
This season, Jones’ two-seam sinking fastball averaged 97.1 mph, according to Statcast. The sinker has accounted for 64.8 percent of his pitches in 2018.
Renteria said both coaches and Jones felt it was important for him to get work with 3 weeks left in the season.
“He wanted to make sure he can come back in healthy and finish out the season,” Renteria said. “And we’ll manage him so he can have a little bit more control and we can keep him out there as long as we can.”
Royals 6, White Sox 3: Kansas City scored three runs in the bottom of the third at Kauffman Stadium, and never looked back Tuesday night.
Chicago’s Avisail Garcia drove in Yolmer Sanchez with an RBI groundout in the top of the third.
Tim Anderson drove in Ryan LaMarre to start a brief rally in the top of the ninth, and Yoan Moncada drew a bases-loaded walk to give the White Sox a third run.
Dylan Covey took the loss, allowing five runs, six hits and three walks while striking out four.