White Sox closer candidates nearing mound debuts

White Sox closer candidates nearing mound debuts

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The battle for White Sox closer slowly but surely is moving from the trainer's room to the field.

Neither Nate Jones nor Matt Lindstrom appeared in either of the first two Cactus League contests or were scheduled to throw in Saturday's rained out game against the Indians. Jones has been sidelined since the start of camp with a moderate left glute strain, while Lindstrom felt the effects of a mild left oblique strain last Wednesday and was scratched from his scheduled one inning Friday.

But Jones threw a live bullpen session Sunday and Lindstrom played long toss, with both targeting a mound debut in game action by the end of this week or the beginning of next. Jones threw two sets of 15 pitches and felt no discomfort.

"In the first [15], I was throwing strikes and I felt really good about the second set out there," Jones said. "I'm ready to rock and roll it feels like.

"I don't know what the plan is. They'll probably give me a couple days off, then have me throw another bullpen or put me in a game. I'm not really sure."

Lindstrom tentatively is set to play long toss again Monday and then throw another "touch and feel bullpen" Tuesday before potentially getting into some games.

"My main test will be off the bullpen mound getting downhill a little bit," Lindstrom said. "But I've been doing my rehab, feeling good and optimistic and looking forward to getting in some games. The training staff did a good job getting me better."

Daniel Webb, a third closer candidate, returned home at the end of last week due to a death in the family. Jones said Sunday that it's unfortunate with everything going on for this trio, but they are ready to battle for and against each other to get that ninth inning job.

"You can call it a friendly competition," said a smiling Jones. "We're all rooting for each other obviously. We don't want to see each other do badly. It's a nice little competition and makes spring interesting for us."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.