Nate Jones let out a hearty laugh when reminded that he's the most tenured member of the White Sox. Having seen what in's store for the future, Jones hopes his run with the White Sox extends through 2021.
Jones, 31, is about to enter his sixth full season with the White Sox. His current deal guarantees two more seasons and includes club options for three more years. Though it has been difficult to see several clubhouse staples exit the past few years, Jones is enthusiastic about the wave of talent expected to arrive soon -- even if makes him the elder statesman.
"It definitely makes you feel old quick," Jones said. "To get this influx of younger guys who are going to eventually come up and do awesome is exciting. It makes you want to be a part of it. It makes you want to be here and last those five years I've got left. I want to be part of this retool or rebuild or whatever they're calling it, to be able to sustain that success as an organization."
Chris Sale had the most tenure in the clubhouse before he was traded to the Boston Red Sox in December. He had taken over the honor with the May release of John Danks, who inherited the status when Paul Konerko retired at the end of the 2014 season.
Now that Sale is gone, the club doesn't have many players who have stayed around for a long time. Jones -- who went 5-3 with three saves, a 2.29 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings last season -- holds a slight edge in tenure over Jose Quintana, who debuted May 7, 2012 and has been with the team for good since he returned later that month.
Outfielder Avisail Garcia, who debuted with the team on Aug. 9, 2013, is the longest-standing position player. Jake Petricka (Aug. 22, 2013) and Leury Garcia (Aug. 23, 2013) are the next in line.
Jones doesn't feel too old, however, as the White Sox roster still boasts plenty of experience. Whether it's David Robertson, Derek Holland, James Shields, Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Geovany Soto or Peter Bourjos, the club is loaded with veterans. But it's still a strange thought to Jones that he has been around longer than anyone else.
"Obviously it's not something I was thinking of coming into this offseason," Jones said. "It's definitely different. I still look at those (veterans), looking for advice from them.
"Time flies when you're having fun. That's what the game's about, having fun and winning. It doesn't seem like it has been that long of a time, but that's part of the business I guess."
Jones -- who leaves this week to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic -- also knows moving on is also part of the game. When he sees the boatload of talented prospects on the way, Jones likes where the White Sox are headed.
He also likes the idea of helping those players find success on their path to the majors.
"It's good stuff," Jones said. "We've got a good mix here between the veterans and the young guys. We're always here for those guys if they want to ask questions or how we do things, we're an open book. We're here to talk about it, here to come together as a team and work together."