One player who I’d really like to see return to the field this season (even in 2016) and not miss a beat is Chicago White Sox reliever Nate Jones, though that is up in the air.
Jones, who had reconstructive elbow surgery last season (Tommy John surgery), was profiled in an article by Dan Hayes on CSN Chicago this week, and in the piece Hayes quoted Jones:
"“I’m just building up the arm strength and stamina and just trying to work towards getting on the mound.”"
Hearing Jones is halfway through recovery, possibly three-quarters of the way, is great news not only for the White Sox, but for Jones as well, because when he’s healthy he’ll be able to contribute to the White Sox bullpen.
In his last full season during the ’13 campaign, Jones pitched 78 innings, where he had an ERA of 4.15 and a WHIP of 1.22 in 70 relief appearances. Though the ERA was a tad high, his strikeout numbers made up for it, with 89 in ’13.
Jones’ best season in terms of ERA was ’12 with a 2.39 ERA (1.38 WHIP) with 65 strikeouts in 71.2 innings pitched (65 appearances).
The question about Jones is exactly what type of pitcher will he be when he officially returns to the mound (whenever that may be), because most likely he won’t be the same type of pitcher he once was.
According to Baseball Prospectus, Jones will play in 28 games this season, with 31 strikeouts, if he’s able to return at all. If Jones is able to make it back to the MLB bullpen in ’15, that would be a great story.
The BP publication also says the following on Jones:
"“He still has a fighting chance to make an impact … but time is the enemy.”"
Jones is putting in the work, and once he’s finally able to get back to the majors … that will be the ultimate test for him. We wish the best to Jones in his comeback effort, and it will be an exciting day when he makes the long-awaited return to the majors.