Chicago White Sox reliever Nate Jones back up to speed
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Nate Jones was in training camp last spring, he was just seven months removed from Tommy John elbow surgery and could barely play catch.
This spring, the White Sox' relief pitcher is back up to speed.
After hitting against Jones in batting practice Wednesday at Camelback Ranch, Melky Cabrera said the right-hander was throwing 100 mph.
Cabrera was joking, right?
"I have no clue," Jones said with a sheepish smile. "I couldn't tell you. They would know better than I would."
Jones regularly threw 100 mph before a hip injury led to elbow surgery in July 2014. The right-hander returned to the Sox' bullpen last August and gradually got himself up to speed while going 2-2 with a 3.32 ERA and striking out 27 in 19 innings.
This season, Jones is looking forward to being healthy from start to finish.
"It's pretty big, especially coming into this spring training," Jones said. "Last year was a whole different story coming in here. I was hurt and everything. I want to come in here and show I'm strong and healthy and finish that way, too."
Mat Latos threw live batting practice for the first time on Wednesday, and the big right-hander wasn't pleased with himself after throwing so many pitches out of the strike zone.
"You need some strikes and to get people out," said manager Robin Ventura, who watched Latos with pitching coach Don Cooper. "That's the biggest thing for him is to get that feeling of being healthy and going out and getting people out and get some confidence."
Latos landed awkwardly after throwing a pitch early in the session and appeared to tweak his surgically repaired left knee, but he stayed on the mound and completed the rest of his throwing.
Known for his calm, cool air, manager Robin Ventura talked with much more of an edge Tuesday before the White Sox went through their first full-squad spring workout.
"You want to make sure they understand," Ventura said. "We didn't enjoy the way we played the last couple years. We have a group that can be fundamentally sound and it's vital for us to be successful."
Ventura didn't offer too many details about his opening speech to the team.
"It might have been a little different," he said. "It was just different.
"That's about as far as I'll go but they understood where I was coming from. You don't want to sit there and beat it into the new guys because they weren't here. But tone-wise, the guys who've been here in the past, they understand where I was coming from."