As a rookie last season, White Sox relief pitcher Nate Jones made it look easy. Maybe too easy.
Making the jump from Class AA Birmingham, Jones appeared in 65 games for the Sox and went 8-0 with a 2.39 ERA.
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This year, the 27-year-old right-hander is 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA in 19 games.
What's been the difference?
"To tell you the truth, I feel good every time I go out there," said Jones, who pitched 1 inning against the Cubs on Monday night and allowed 3 runs on 4 hits. "It's just this year, I'm running into bad luck. Also again, we're pitching against big-league teams.
"They're going to hit the ball. I just have to make the adjustments, keep grinding, keep throwing strikes and keep getting after it."
Jones isn't hitting 100 mph with his fastball like he often did in 2012, and the right-hander's inability to command any of his pitches has resulted in 12 walks over 23 innings. Last season, Jones walked 44 in 9422⁄3 innings.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura is going to let Jones work out his problems at the major-league level, but a demotion to the minors is a real option if the results remain the same.
"Everybody in the locker room's still pulling for me and everything like that, so all I can do is go out there and keep grinding," Jones said. "They can tell, I can tell, that I'm going through a bad time right now. I appreciate everything I get. Don't take anything for granted because it can be taken away from you."
Paul Konerko grew up playing hockey in New England, and he's a huge NHL fan.
Before heading out for batting practice Tuesday, Konerko received his tickets for the Blackhawks-Red Wings Game 7 Wednesday at the United Center.
"Yeah, it (Game 7) is really kind of a dream for me," Konerko said. "I've never been to one. I think I went to a playoff game a couple of years ago but I was up in a box. That's a little bit different. Just the way our seasons work out, you never really get a chance for that to happen.
"I'll definitely take it in. I watch a lot of hockey. I watch tons of games in the off-season. I watch everything I can during the season."
John Danks takes the mound for the White Sox against the Cubs on Wednesday.
The left-hander earned the win at Wrigley Field on May 19 last season. It was Danks' final start before being shelved with a shoulder injury that required surgery.
"I hadn't thought about it like that," said Danks, who made his first 2013 start against Miami on Friday. "I'm just really focused on trying to win a ballgame now. The last start was the one, I've got to say. I made my comeback and got through all that. Now, forward, I'm hoping to be looked at and thought of as just another pitcher in the rotation. That starts tomorrow. Hopefully we'll go out there, have a good one and go from there."