Jenks looking for answers after another rough outing

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Jenks looking for answers after another rough outing

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The good news is that Bobby Jenks now knows what the problem has been. The bad news is that he didnt figure it out until after Sundays game, a 3-2 Red Sox win over the Mariners at Fenway Park, featuring another Jenks meltdown.

This one came at the expense of a win by Tim Wakefield, who left with a 2-0 lead, two outs, and a runner on first in the sixth inning. Jenks, charged with getting just one out, faced five batters, giving up a single and three straight walks, allowing two runs to score before getting the final out.

Well, if there is a good note, I was looking at video and I am mechanically off, Jenks said. So, with this hopefully it's a quick fix, because everything's there. We're talking a few inches here and, obviously, it can make a big difference out on the field. I've always been a guy who's been known for throwing strikes and my walks have been low. So this is very uncharacteristic and we found the reason why.

The person who helped him figure it out?

Wakefield, Jenks said. He picked up on it right away, too.

On Friday night, Jenks allowed the Mariners to score two runs in the seventh inning, getting charged with a blown save, and a loss. Sunday, he was charged with another blown save, his second. His record now stands at 1-2 with a 9.35 ERA.

Sunday he wasnt throwing enough strikes, manager Terry Francona said. His velocity was better than weve seen. Balls coming out of his hand. I think he was getting mad, but he wasnt throwing enough strikes. Its kind of a trait I guess you appreciate in your players when theyre trying too hard a little bit. You see him and hes trying so hard. Hes grinding and we just need him to get a good inning and get back to relax, and thats a little easier said than done. But were not going run from him. Hes going to help us win a lot of games.

Jenks, likewise, has not run from the tough questions. Asked how he felt after losing the lead Wakefield had given him, Jenks replied:

Feel like expletive. What else can I say?

Pitching coach Curt Young has noticed the right-handers confidence waning.

Hes a guy whos been in situations as a closer with the White Sox and Im sure theres games that got away from him. Hes a guy that has that class to always bounce back, Young said.

I dont think its mechanics. Its just a feel every pitcher gets throwing a baseball and you do, you lose that touch on occasion and guys like him get it back in a hurry.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was behind the plate for Jenks latest outing.

Its tough because Bobby, hes human, Saltalamacchia said. We all can lose confidence. So I think he might have lost a little bit. But hes not going to show it. Hes going to go out there and take the ball every time. I think he had six or seven days without seeing the mound so thats tough. Especially coming from when youre in there every game closing. So I think thats just tough for him. But I think hes just going to have to find a program where he can throw maybe between and not wear himself down, but something that hes comfortable with. But hell be fine.

Jenks acknowledges his confidence has taken some hits.

You know what? It got kicked in the pants a little bit, he said. I've done this long enough, I've had plenty of bad times in my career before that this is something I can bounce back from, because I've done it so many times.

And, now that hes figured out the problem, he can apply a fix -- to both his mechanics and his confidence.

It's just that I'm coming off the ball. But, it's in a way, where it's almost right after I release it. It doesn't feel like I am when I'm out there, but it's completely clear. It's big when you look at the video.

This is a new issue. I've always been very mechanically sound. It's a good thing. This is something that's only going to make me stronger and better for it. I'm going to be putting in work in the bullpen doing all the standard things I need to do to get better and we'll just go from there.

In his first season with the Red Sox, the erstwhile closer knows he has some work to do to win fans into his camp. He heard the boos they were hard to miss that rained down on him as he left the field Sunday.

You know what? The way I'd been pitching, I deserved it, he said. Face it, I stunk. There's no other way around it. There's only one way to go and that's up and that's what we're shooting
for.

Once I'm right, I know what type of pitcher I am and everybody else does, too. Obviously things aren't right right now and now that we've figured it out, we'll put in the extra time and just get things back on track and get 'em right.

It cant be soon enough for Jenks, his team, or his fans-in-waiting.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.