04/07/2013 6:41 PM ET
Jones building on last year's success
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- After experiencing his first loss as a big leaguer Friday night behind eight victories, Nate Jones was back on the mound Saturday afternoon against the Mariners. Manager Robin Ventura wasn't consciously trying to get Jones back in action following his first loss in 67 appearances, as much as the situation called for his entrance.
"I wouldn't mind [starter Dylan] Axelrod going the whole way," said a smiling Ventura. "But you look at what he did last year and you want to get him back in there as soon as possible. The situation had to dictate to get him in there and it did."
Jones has allowed three runs over 2 1/3 innings this season after being one of the surprise players to break camp with the 2012 White Sox and then turning in one of the more under-the-radar successful campaigns for any American League reliever. But don't try to tell Jones that he's now established following his 8-0 effort and 2.28 ERA from 2012.
"I wouldn't say more established. I would say more experienced," Jones said. "I was lucky enough last year to go through it all. So, you know I'm going to take that experience from last year and learn from it. I want to keep that same mentality that I've always got to be fighting and improving myself."
Jones, who touched 100 mph during Spring Training, said his Arizona focus was on maintaining that same confidence level from last year. He found big league success before and knows he can do it again, pumping in strikes and letting the defense do its thing.
He also hasn't lost that special feeling from his first Opening Day, and the feeling from the challenge that followed.
"Maybe the nerves have gone away a little bit for now," said Jones, who will have plenty of late-inning chances after starting last year in middle relief. "But the excitement sure as heck hasn't gone away. I want to go out there and prove the same thing, that I can get guys out."
Peavy enjoys National League style of play
CHICAGO -- Jake Peavy has pitched parts of five seasons with the White Sox, and when fully healthy in 2012, was one of the more dominant starters in the American League.
The right-handed hurler chose to stay with the White Sox and continue working in the AL through a two-year, $29-million extension agreed upon during the offseason. But it doesn't mean that Peavy doesn't still hold a great appreciation for the National League style of baseball, which Peavy played for parts of eight years in San Diego.
"I love the National League game," said Peavy, who gets the start Tuesday night when the White Sox travel to Washington to take on the Nationals in an Interleague series. "I love the pitcher being an integral part of the game.
"You're being an athlete and having a chance to impact the game. If you practice being better than the other guy, it's one advantage you have over the other starting pitcher. That's a big reason I felt I had one more advantage. In the National League, I took pride in putting the ball in play, getting my bunts down and being able to run bases."
Peavy, Gavin Floyd and Dylan Axelrod all get a chance to hit this week in the three-game series. Peavy has a .177 career batting average with two homers and 27 RBIs, but his defense, another of those disciplines to improve overall contributions on the mound, was honored prior to Sunday's series finale when Peavy received the 2012 Gold Glove shared with Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson.
With four-time Gold Glove winner Mark Buehrle returning to the AL as part of the Blue Jays, Peavy joked that his reign might be coming to an end quickly.
"When you get to the age I've gotten to, you try to be as well rounded of a player as you can possibly be," Peavy said. "Fielding your position, getting off the mound and holding baserunners is something I take a lot of pride in.
"It's something we all take pride in. To be recognized by opposing managers for holding baserunners and fielding your position, it means so much."
Strategy obviously differs between the two leagues, with double-switches being more prevalent in the NL, not to mention a greater role for bench players. Manager Robin Ventura and Peavy spoke about their hope that a designated hitter is not added to NL lineups, keeping that difference intact.
"Don't get me wrong by any means: I love the American League, and I couldn't be more happy being where I'm at. I just prefer the National League," Peavy said. "Being able to hit and run the bases and, like I said, you feel like a kid, like an athlete, more part of the game and at the end of the day it's one more way to try and separate yourself from the other guy to have a chance at winning that game. What pitcher wouldn't like facing the opposing pitcher. It's just fun."
"There's room for both," Ventura said. "Again, the DH has kept a lot of players that couldn't play defense that are good hitters still, they get to extend their careers."
Axelrod, Quintana swap starting spots
CHICAGO -- The White Sox flip-flopped their starting rotation for this week, moving Dylan Axelrod from Friday to Thursday and moving Jose Quintana from Thursday to Friday.
Axelrod will pitch against the Nationals on regular rest, while Quintana will have six days before opening a series at Progressive Field in Cleveland.
These changes have nothing to do with injuries but are all about matchups.
"We started looking at the rest of the month," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We just liked that a little bit better than them being the other way."
Conditions may be affecting Keppinger's cold start
CHICAGO -- Robin Ventura pointed to the cold and windy first-week weather conditions as part of the reason for Jeff Keppinger's 1-for-21 start and 0-for-19 funk. Aside from pulling the ball a little more than he usually does, Ventura believes that Keppinger looks normal at the plate.
This slump also could be a bit more heightened with these being Keppinger's first at-bats of the season, instead of coming in June or July.
"When it happens in the middle [of the season], you kind of have something to base it on," Ventura said. "You were swinging it good before. They are never fun. They are never good to go through, but again his track record with the way he swings the bat, you just wait for it to turn.
"You kind of go from that. Again, it's not easy to hit right now. So maybe going out on the road will be a good change and will help on the psyche.
Keppinger got the day off Sunday, with left-handed hitting Conor Gillaspie moving into the lineup. Gillaspie played every day at the Minor League level over the last four years, but is adjusting to a reserve role for the White Sox.
"It's tough, but it's something I'm going to have to get used to and do my best at that role," Gillaspie said. "Obviously, the days I'm not playing, I can do a little bit more as far as in the weight room and extra work and things like that. That's just part of life."
Dunn expected to get time in left against Nationals
CHICAGO -- A move to the National League for the next three games against the Nationals means the White Sox will lose the designated hitter. And with right-handed starters Jordan Zimmerman and Dan Haren pitching Wednesday and Thursday, it's likely Adam Dunn will get at least one start in left field.
"We'll just see how it goes," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He'll probably have one of them at some point. He says he feels it's his home park.
"I don't know what that means," added Ventura with a laugh.
Dunn played for the Nationals in 2009-10 and played 84 games in the outfield during the 2009 season.
"I know it's obviously a big park, but it'll be fine," Dunn said. "It'll actually be kind of fun if I do it."
Third to first
• Alex Rios became just the fifth player to homer off Felix Hernandez on a 0-2 count in Saturday's 4-3 White Sox win over Seattle. The last player to do so was Adrian Beltre, who homered on an 0-2 pitch on Sept. 18, 2011. Former White Sox third baseman Josh Fields hit a solo homer off Hernandez on an 0-2 pitch on Aug. 19, 2007.
• The White Sox are prepared to watch Monday night's NCAA title game between Michigan and Louisville together as a team in Washington.
• Julio Cruz and Rudy Law, members of the 1983 AL West champs, threw out the first pitch Sunday. The White Sox wore the throwback '83 jerseys for the first time this season and will do so for every home Sunday.