GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Early indications show that Nate Jones is ready to show even more this season.
After bursting upon the scene in 2012 with an impressive rookie season, Jones doesn't seem content to merely duplicate that success. He has looked as good as any White Sox pitcher this spring.
The latest to discover how good he looks were teammates Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn. In the defense of both power hitters, they are seeing living pitching for the first time since last season, but they were clearly kept off balance by Jones during live batting practice Tuesday.
"He does that a lot," manager Robin Ventura said, when asked about Jones making his teammates look uncomfortable in the batter's box. "That's good news. He did that a lot last year. He's a kid that has come a long way in a year. Last year, at this time, we weren't real sure he was going to make the squad but proved here and throughout the year that he belongs."
In his first full season, Jones finished 8-0 with a 2.39 ERA in 65 relief outings, recording 65 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings, while holding opponents to a .256 batting average. It was impressive stuff from a pitcher who made the club after pitching in Double-A the previous season.
"Watching him throw, you can tell he's looking to get better and demands more of himself than the position he's in," Ventura said.
Ventura told fans at SoxFest last month that he would consider Jones for the closer role this season, But Addison Reed is still expected to keep his job from last year. If Reed faltered during the regular season, though, Jones is expected to get the first crack at the role.