White Sox righty Nate Jones chatted today with reporters, including Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (Twitter link), about his efforts to work back from the DL. Per Jones, a recurrence of symptoms of elbow neuritis forced a halt to his throwing program.
Jones, 31, made his last appearance on April 28th, so he has already been down for six weeks. It’s somewhat concerning, then, to hear that the issue continues to linger. At the same time, another MRI came back clean, so there’s still no reason to fear that a more significant problem may be underlying the discomfort.
Looking ahead, Jones will need to be cleared medically to resume throwing before he can once again begin working toward a return. He suggested that could come in relatively short order, though in all likelihood a somewhat more conservative approach will be required this time around.
If Jones can begin making progress, it’s still plausible to imagine him factoring in this summer’s trade market. The late-blooming reliever is a rather unique asset. He carries a 2.30 ERA since the start of the 2016 campaign, with 95 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings. But his health history includes some red flags — including Tommy John surgery in 2014 — and Jones will turn 32 before the start of the 2018 campaign. On the other hand, there’s plenty of upside in Jones’s contract, which promises him just $3.95MM next year and comes with three cheap option years. (The pact also includes some complicated vesting provisions that would make the options somewhat less team-friendly if he’s able to avoid elbow surgery by the end of next season.)