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

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

Napoli: Red Sox and his agent only had 'small talk' about reunion

BOSTON -- Of course, the Rangers' Mike Napoli didn't mind the idea of replacing David Ortiz. He loved playing in Boston.

There just was never much chatter that way last offseason, when Napoli was a free agent after his Indians took the Cubs to seven games in the World Series.

"I think my agent had maybe a small talk or something [with the Red Sox], but I don't think it ever would have happened," Napoli said Tuesday afternoon as he returned to Fenway Park with Texas. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I would have loved to come back. But, I mean, it all worked out. I'm glad to be where I'm at now. Because I knew everybody here [with the Rangers]. I didn't have to start over again."

Napoli played with the Rangers in 2011 and '12, and was traded by the Sox to Texas for the last few months of the 2015 season.

He was hopeful the Sox -- his team from 2013 to midseason 2015 -- would be among the clubs to come calling last winter.

"Oh, yeah," he said.

But he wasn't optimistic it was going to happen. And it didn't.

"To be honest with you . . . Cleveland was my first priority," he said. "I just had a World Series run [with the Indians] and we didn't win it. And then Texas was there [in the bidding, along with] Minnesota."

The Rangers wound up giving Napoli, 35, a one-year deal for 8.5 million with an $11 million club option for next season or a $2.5 million buyout. He's hitting just .188 entering Tuesday, a subpar figure, but has 10 home runs.

"We started off pretty slow, but winning 10 straight will help," Napoli said of the Rangers' recent tear. "[Winning] 11 of 12, we've been playing better. I think we kind of lost track of who we are. We got some guys struggling, still trying to find themselves and kind of got away from doing it together as a team, but we got back to doing that. It's been going pretty well."

Part of the World Series championship team of four years ago, Napoli loved being in Boston in 2013, and he enjoys being back now.

"What we were able to do in 2013, obviously, it's something I'l never forget and something I cherish," Napoli said. "I love coming back here to play."

When it was noted there's been so much turmoil since Napoli left -- the talk of Tuesday was manager John Farrell's job security -- he was unsurprised.

"You got to have thick skin to play here," Napoli said. "You're expected to win a championship every single year. But that's what I loved about playing here, is that people were on you. For me, I loved it. A lot of people probably couldn't do it.

"I knew it in my heart that I went out there and I played as hard as I possibly could every single time . . . I know you're not going to be perfect and live up to everyone."

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

Red Sox recall Sam Travis, send Velázquez back to Pawtucket

BOSTON -- On the list of Red Sox problems, finding a platoon partner for Mitch Moreland at first base isn't high on the list. But the others -- third base, fifth starter -- aren't solvable at the moment, so the Sox turned to one they think they can solve.

Today they recalled Sam Travis from Pawtucket, most likely to provide relief for Moreland against left-handed pitching. Travis' path to the majors was delayed by a knee injury that cost him a good chunk of the 2016 season -- otherwise, odds are good he'd have been here by now -- but he signaled his readiness by recovering from a 5-for-36 start with a sizzling .344 average in 90 at-bats since April 22 that includes six doubles and three home runs. His OPS in that span is .909.

Most importantly, Travis crushes left-handed pitching. He's hit .358 (93-for-260) against them in his professional career, and is .414 (12-for-29) against them this year. 

Hector Velázquez was sent back to the PawSox to make room for Travis, ensuring another roster move later this week. After Kyle Kendrick's failed attempt to take control of the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Velázquez was called up and given a shot in Oakland last Thursday night. He allowed six earned runs over five innings, failing the test. And thus the search for a fifth starter -- at least until David Price returns -- continues.

Price will make a rehab start in Pawtucket tomorrow and could return to Boston after that, but the Sox will need a pitcher for Saturday's game against Seattle. Even if Price is cleared to return to Boston, he won't be able to pitch Saturday on two days' rest.