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Surgery ends Jones' season for Chicago White Sox

For the second consecutive season, Chicago White Sox reliever and Pendleton County native Nate Jones will come to an end with surgery.

On April 27, the Chicago White Sox announced that Jones had been placed on the 10-day disabled list,  and on Monday, May 6, he was moved to the 60-day disabled list. Late Monday evening, May 13, the team announced reliever Nate Jones had flexor mass surgery Monday on his right arm.

“There’s been a decent number of very fine relievers in the last several years who have had this and been able to be productive into their mid, late 30s,” Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “Certainly there’s no reason to think Nate can’t be one as well. Get this behind him, get him healthy and see where it goes.”

The longest-tenured player on the Sox’s roster, he likely will be done for the season. The White Sox hold a team option on Jones for the 2020 season.

The White Sox had picked up his option for 2019, and he was being counted on to be a valuable back-end part of the bullpen.

Manager Rick Renteria said in spring training, “Nate is going to give us some flexibility. I hope I can slot him into one particular area,”

Jones had been very effective for the White Sox throughout his career. In 217 career games going into this season, he owned a 3.11 ERA with 309 strikeouts in 281 innings including 33 games in 2018 in which he struck out 32 in 30 innings while posting a 3.00 ERA.

This season had been a struggle from the start. He saw his ERA balloon to 16.20, but strong appearances over the past few weeks saw Jones returning to form  with his ERA standing at 3.48 presently. He had 13 appearances with 10.1 innings pitched and 10 strikeouts.

After giving up three earned runs in his first three appearances, he had only given up one over the last 10 appearances. He earned his first save of the season against the New York Yankees on April 12.

“The frustrating part is I was having results,” Jones told the Northwest Herald. “I was getting guys out and doing my part for the team. The tough part is when you can do that but you are not feeling 100 percent. That’s the thing I struggle with the most.”

Jones has battled health issues throughout his career. In 2018, it was the pronator muscle strain; in 2017, ulnar-nerve repositioning surgery on the right elbow. In 2017, it was a microdiscectomy procedure to alleviate back discomfort. He also had Tommy John Surgery.

When Jones was right, “He’s been for me a classic fireman, putting out fires mid-game when things could potentially get out of hand,’’ Renteria said.

Jones is taking this latest setback with the same tough mentality that those who know him expect.

“There’s always hope,” he said. “There’s disappointment you can’t do your job, but there’s always hope you are going to get back and do it. That’s what I hang onto. You have to have a certain mentality and toughness to play this game, too.

“I’ve been around it long enough where that’s helped out, and having been through this situation before really helps out.”