Injury to slow Nate Jones at outset

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Nate Jones, who is expected to compete for the Chicago White Sox’s vacant closer role, will be out of action until next week with a strained gluteus muscle.

Jones figures to be the White Sox’s long-term answer at closer, but he will have to fight for the job this spring with fellow right-hander Matt Lindstrom, who saved 23 games for the Houston Astros in 2010.

Saturday was the White Sox’s first workout for pitchers and catchers, but Jones did not participate.

“Nate said it started giving him an issue about 7-10 days ago,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He mentioned it to (trainer) Herm (Schneider) yesterday when he reported. We’re just trying to get the thing settled down and stay out in front of it before it becomes a real thing.”

Cactus League games don’t begin for another two weeks, and the regular season doesn’t start until March 31 so the White Sox are content to take things slow with the reliever who made a team-best 70 appearances last season and also averaged a team-best 10.27 strikeouts per nine innings

“We’re here for an extended period of time, so there’s no need to rush through anything,” Hahn said.

Jones, who didn’t mention the injury when speaking to the media in the morning, remains confident he will have a strong season and is excited for the opportunity to win the closer’s role.

“You want to be that guy to be counted on for those last three outs, because those are pretty important,” Jones said. “You want to step up and have that role. It is the role you want.”