There are a lot of sad characters throughout Ben Folds' catalog, but Fred Jones is the only one with two tales of woe. In "Cigarette," he's dealing with a bipolar wife who might burn down their house, and in "Fred Jones Part 2," he loses his job at the newspaper.
Nate Jones has packed two sad stories into one song, and he has the added misfortune of being a real person.
He already underwent surgery once this year, getting a microdisectomy in April to relieve an irritated nerve in his back that had affected his pitching since the start of spring training. But while trying to get back on the horse with his throwing program, he suffered setbacks in the form of elbow discomfort, which turned out to be a UCL tear.
That requierd his second major surgery on the season, and so Dr. James Andrews performed a Tommy John job on him. Jones, who was expected to return in the second half of 2014, now may miss all of 2015.
"A lot of times with the UCL tear there’s a specific instance where a player feels a pop so to speak, or something specifically tear," Hahn said. "That did not happen in this specific occasion. Instead, when he tried to ramp it up he felt some discomfort, which he described as burning in the area of the elbow. We shut him down and tried to treat it up and started to ramp him up again. The burning continued at which point he was diagnosed as having a tear."
It's terrible news for everybody. Jones may lose two consecutive whole seasons of his prime, and as he crosses the threshold from pre-arbitration and his first arb year. The White Sox lose a guy who could get strikeouts while keeping the ball in the park, and at a nice price.
The only upside is a relative one, in that the Sox know they'll be without Jones' services for 2015. Entering the season, Jones played a big part in Rick Hahn's bullpen designs, and when he had to resign himself to surgery, the Sox lost most of their hierarchy (Matt Lindstrom's ankle injury then demolished the rest of it). The Sox know this offseason that they'll need a late-inning reliever with strikeout stuff, even if it's going to cost them more than they were planning to pay.
As for Jones, he'll finish the season having only appeared in two games. Both were back in early April; all five batters he faced reached, and four of them scored. Having an ERA of ∞ in his 2014 row will forever symbolize how much this season sucked for him.