Jenks is back, and anxious to start pitching


Jenks is back, and anxious to start pitching

By Sean McAdam

BOSTON -- It's been almost exactly a month since Bobby Jenks has appeared in a game for the Red Sox. Now, after a stint on the DL due to a biceps strain and two rehab apperances for Pawtucket last weekend, Jenks is eager to return.

"I'm back at 100 percent," proclaimed Jenks. "My arm feels great. I was throwing the ball well at Pawtucket; I was commanding all my pitches and feeling very good."

Jenks didn't allow a run in five of his first six appearances for the Sox in April, but in retrospect, the arm began effecting him in mid-April, a "solid two weeks," before he shut it down.

"He was throwing hard," recounted Terry Francona. "That wasn't an issue. The thing that was bothering him was the command."

"I was feeling I could keep throwing through it," said Jenks. "Unfortunately, we just didn't catch it in time . . . It's something we could have caught sooner, but I was being stubborn and not telling anybody about it."

During the down time - with side sessions -- Jenks was able to correct some poor habits he fell into mechanically.

"Small adjustments, that's all it, really," said Jenks. "Just keeping my shoulder closed longer and keeping my head on top of the ball -- small things to keep myself right."

It's possible -- even likely -- that Jenks' first appearance since May 1 will come against the White Sox, the team for which he pitched six seasons before leaving to sign a two-year deal with the Red Sox last winter.

But facing the White Sox or manager Ozzie Guillen, with whom he's frequently fueded, won't serve as any extra motivation.

"If it was any team right now," he said, "I'd have the same motivation because I'm coming off the DL and I want to get back to work."

Pitching against long-time teammates such as Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Quentin -- among others -- is "going to be weird. But once the game starts and once my inning is there and ready to go, it's time to get down to business."

A month off has given Jenks a new persepctive and a fresh start.

"I want to get back to where I was at the start of the year," he said, "and get back to commanding all my pitches and pitching like I know I can."

Of the verbal give-and-take he had with Guillen last winter and this spring training, Jenks said: "It's water under the bridge for me. I'm here with the Red Sox now and as much as I enjoyed my time over there with Chicago, my focus is on this organization and this team right now."

Jenks said he regretted some of the negative things he had to say about the White Sox and Guillen after leaving.

"I spent a lot of time there and there were a lot of good years," he said.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl


Harper, Strickland throw punches in Nationals-Giants brawl

SAN FRANCISCO - An enraged Bryce Harper charged the mound, fired his helmet and traded punches to the head with San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland after getting hit by a fastball, setting off a wild brawl Monday during the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Giants.

Drilled in the right hip by a 98 mph heater on Strickland's first pitch in the eighth inning with two outs, none on and Washington ahead 2-0, Harper didn't hesitate. The slugger pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.

No one got in Harper's way as he rushed the mound. His eyes were wide as he flung his helmet - it sailed way wide of Strickland, it might've slipped - and they started swinging away. The 6-foot-4 Strickland hit Harper in the face, then they broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpen emptied.

Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters. Three Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the pack all the way into the dugout, while a teammate held back Harper.

Harper and Strickland were both ejected. They have some history between them - in the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland, and the All-Star outfielder glared at the reliever as he rounded the bases after the second shot in Game 4.

Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong


Drellich: After golden 2016, Red Sox remember what it's like to have things go wrong

CHICAGO — More than anything else, Monday’s 5-4 Red Sox loss was a reminder of how much the Red Sox had go right for them a year ago, and just how unrealistic it was to expect so much of it to carry over into 2017.

The Red Sox remain a very good team. But the success of last year’s 93-win team, of any 93-win team is, truly, difficult to replicate. Unlikely, even.

Baseball’s age of parity, the randomness of freak injuries, good old regression — the Sox were due for some elements to catch up to them after a season that was more or less golden in 2016.

Dustin Pedroia, who headed back to Boston on Monday for an MRI on his left wrist, was healthy enough to hit 15 home runs a year ago, his highest total since 2012. The way this year is going for him health-wise, just having him on the field and hitting close to .300 sounds like a worthwhile goal the rest of the way.

(Slides are Pedroia’s enemy, be it from an oncoming base runner, like Manny Machado, or an oncoming first baseman, like Jose Abreu.)

David Price wasn’t living David Price’s best baseball life a year ago. But you know what you can, and probably do, take for granted? He was healthy and devouring innings. He cleared more frames than anyone else in the regular season. Even when he wasn’t pitching well, he could pitch and pitch and pitch. 

Jackie Bradley Jr. had a 1.001 OPS at the end of play on May 29, 2016. His OPS after play May 29, 2017, was .670.

We know how special David Ortiz was. Let’s not go there, because it seems like no one can talk about Ortiz’s absence rationally. His exit did not suck every home run out of the Sox lineup, as many like to say is the case, but he is — of course — a big missing piece.

Not everything was perfect in 2016, lest we remember our ex-girlfriends too fondly. Carson Smith went for Tommy John surgery, for example. 

But look now: Smith still isn’t back, Tyler Thornburg is a mystery if not quiet yet an afterthought and Robbie Ross Jr. not only struggled to the point he was demoted, he’s going through elbow trouble.

Rick Porcello won the American League Cy Young, much to Kate Upton’s chagrin. Porcello will not win the Cy Young this year, if you hadn’t been paying attention, although Chris Sale might.

There’s something going well for the Sox right now: that Sale guy. The bullpen coughed up the game Monday, Matt Barnes in particular. Yet Sox relievers had the fifth best ERA of any team to start the day. 

Hey, Eduardo Rodriguez looks pretty good, doesn't he?

With some downward trends have come some positives. Craig Kimbrel's on another planet.

The Sox may still be a 90-win team. Again, they remain a very good club.

But the wins, the breaks aren’t coming as easily as they did a year ago. You should never have expected they would.