Northern Kentucky native makes Reds’ Opening Day roster

Reds pitcher Nate Jones interview: July 18

Nate Jones is a veteran reliever who spent eight years with White Sox

The Cincinnati Reds don’t have to finalize their 30-man Opening Day roster until Friday when they open the 2020 season against the Detroit Tigers, but one player waiting to find out if he would start the season with the Reds got the news early.

The Reds announced Saturday they are committed to adding veteran reliever Nate Jones to the roster on or before Opening Day. Jones has been one of four non-roster invitees training with the group at Great American Ball Park.

This will be the ninth season in the big leagues for Jones, 34. He pitched for the Chicago White Sox from 2012-19, compiling a 3.12 ERA in 284 appearances. He played college baseball at Northern Kentucky and is from Falmouth, Ky., 35 miles from Great American Ball Park. Playing for the Reds, his hometown team, will be extra special.

“It has been a long journey,” Jones said, “but it has definitely been worth it. For it to be this close to home and a lot of people to be able to experience it with me is pretty exciting, and I’m very thankful and very blessed for that, for sure.”

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Bell pulled Jones into his office to tell him the news because he didn’t want him to hear it elsewhere or have to wait.

“My initial reaction was excitement,” Jones said. “As a young kid, going from sitting in the stands to pitching on the mound is something special and something not everyone gets to do.”

Jones was limited to 13 appearances in 2019 because of a torn flexor muscle in his right arm. He underwent surgery in May 2019. He signed a minor-league deal with the Reds in the offseason. He allowed one run in three innings in three appearances in spring training. The Reds hope he boosts a relief corps that ranked seventh in the National League with a 4.28 ERA last season.

“We knew what he had done in his career,” Bell said. “We knew how much he could help us, not only just being on the staff but potentially being a guy we can rely on who has the experience of pitching late in games in big situations. The big thing going in for us was, ‘Is Nate healthy?' and he’s shown that. The stuff is there. He’s shown why he’s been successful for a long time. Personally, we’ve gotten to know him and love him. He’s going to fit in well on this team.”

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Jones has commuted to Cincinnati from his home in Kentucky throughout Summer Camp. It’s a 35-40 minute drive, he said, and it will help calm him down before and after games.

“That’s the other way I am blessed,” Jones said. “I get to go home to my own bed at night. Not a lot of guys get to do that in their career.”

In other news from the weekend

• The Reds reassigned five players from Cincinnati to the training camp site at Prasco Park in Mason: pitchers Jesse Biddle, Alex Powers and Ruben Alaniz; infielder Alfredo Rodriguez; and infielder/outfielder Derek Dietrich, who exercises the out in his contract and was granted his release Monday.

• Sonny Gray, who will start the first game of the season Friday, was named the outstanding player of the Summer Series. The Reds played three intrasquad games Friday through Sunday at Great American Ball Park. Gray threw four scoreless, hitless innings Sunday. Relievers Ryan Hendrix, Pedro Strop and Raisel Iglesias followed Gray and completed a no-hitter.

Matt Davidson hit two home runs in the first game Friday. Jesse Winker hit one. Wade Miley threw four scoreless innings.

In the second game Saturday, Francisco Pena, Nick Senzel, Tucker Barnhart all hit home runs. Shogo Akiyama went 3-for-4. Anthony DeSclafani allowed one run in five innings.

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