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Nate Jones hit by batted ball, leaves Cactus League game

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Right-hander Nate Jones left the White Sox’ Cactus League game Wednesday against the Diamondbacks after being
struck on his lower right leg by a batted ball.

The report from the trainer’s room was that Jones has a bruised right knee and is day-to-day.

A one-hop smash by Ildemaro Vargas in the seventh inning appeared to hit Jones near the knee. Jones went down on all fours, got up and hobbled to the dugout. Moments later, he walked toward the clubhouse with Sox training staff, showing a slight limp.

Jones, one of the Sox’ top relief pitchers, is scheduled to pitch for Team USA at the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Nate Jones throws to the Texas Rangers in a baseball game, Monday, May 9, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Jones became the latest Sox player to suffer an injury during the first two weeks of spring training, joining outfielder Charlie Tilson (foot), third baseman Todd Frazier (oblique) and second baseman Brett Lawrie (muscle discomfort).

Left-hander Carlos Rodon hasn’t pitched off a mound yet, but he and the Sox say he is healthy and merely is taking a slower approach for the purpose of keeping him strong throughout the season. Rodon is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session Friday, pitching coach Don Cooper said.

Frazier took batting practice and ground balls before the game, but he continues to take things slowly. He hasn’t played in a Cactus League game.

High praise for Kopech

Veteran right-hander James Shields has taken a liking to the Sox’ stable of young pitching prospects. One he particularly likes is right-hander Michael Kopech — and not because of Kopech’s 100 mph fastball.

‘‘He’s a really good kid, man,’’ Shields said. ‘‘He works really, really hard. The one thing I’ve loved is he really wants to do good, and he’s very coachable. His attitude has been great. He’s obviously got electric stuff, there’s no doubt about it. Everybody knows that. But what really impresses me is the work he puts in between [outings].’’

Kopech made his Cactus League debut Tuesday against the Mariners, getting roughed up for four runs and three hits, including a home run, in the first inning.

It’s probably a benefit for Kopech to have Shields, who has experienced a career of highs to go with a low point in 2016, to lean on. Shields likes doing what he can.

‘‘I’ve had a lot of young pitchers to be around [in Tampa and Kansas City], and the group of guys we have in this clubhouse is pretty special,’’ Shields said after pitching two innings in his first spring outing. ‘‘They want to work, and they work hard. It’s really fun for me. It keeps me young a little bit, being around them, and we’re going to work together and have fun.’’

Eye on the Burdi

First-round fireballer Zack Burdi, who entered the game in place of Jones, gave up a double, an infield single and a walk but struck out two for his second scoreless outing.

‘‘I’m happy where I’m at,’’ Burdi said. ‘‘Finding fastball location and feel for the changeup.’’

Burdi, a late-inning specialist, hopes to break camp with the Sox. If he doesn’t, it shouldn’t be long before he gets to the majors.

‘‘I feel like my body is right where I want it to be at this point,’’ he said. ‘‘When I’m out there, everything feels in rhythm.’’

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com