White Sox remain patient with Jones

Sox reliever Nate Jones is struggling in his second year in the majors. Brian Kersey/Getty Images

CHICAGO -- For Chicago White Sox reliever Nate Jones it isn’t necessarily what he’s throwing when he’s on the mound, it’s where he’s throwing it.

As Jones has failed to locate his pitches this season, his struggles seem to have grown exponentially worse, with his most recent stumble coming Monday against the Chicago Cubs when he gave up three runs in his lone inning of work.

As of now, the White Sox have not decided to send Jones back to Triple-A Charlotte to get back on track, even though right-hander Ramon Troncoso has a 1.35 ERA with the Knights in 18 appearances (20 innings) and could provide bullpen support in Chicago.

“Right now (Jones) needs to fix it here,” manager Robin Ventura said. “We've seen it. It's there. I don't know if it's the lack of confidence or what. Stuff-wise, it's not a velocity issue at all. It's going to be more location and the confidence of being able to continue to do that.”

Jones has a 7.04 ERA this season in 19 appearances, a year after posting a 2.39 ERA in 65 appearances as a rookie.

“There’s only a few inches of bull’s eye on their barrel,” Jones said. “That’s all it can be, a couple of inches here or there. It’s a matter of them hitting it on the barrel, hitting it on the end or hitting it on the inside. That’s all it can be.”

There has been plenty of hitting it on the barrel, obviously, as opponents are hitting .289 off Jones. Only Brian Omogrosso's .314 mark is higher on the White Sox. By comparison, Addison Reed is holding opponents to a .192 batting average.

In an ideal world, Jones would already be operating out of the setup role this season, while taking over some closing duties when Reed needed a day off. That scenario has not come anywhere close to happening.

“Sometimes (days) are tougher than others but obviously you have to have that short-term memory because today is another day, another game I can get in, another chance I can have to help the team out,” Jones said. “That’s what I want to do.”

For now the White Sox have been patient with Jones’ struggles, but it might not stay that way, especially if Troncosco continues to pitch well.

“They can tell and I can tell that I’m going through a bad time right now,” Jones said. “I appreciate everything I get. Don’t take anything for granted because it can be taken away from you.”