Jenks looking for a bit of luck

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Jenks looking for a bit of luck

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON -- After the season hes had, appearing in just 19 games for the Red Sox, limited by a variety of injuries and ailments, reliever Bobby Jenks figures hes due for a change of luck soon.

Ive got some good luck coming my way one of these years, he said in the clubhouse before Saturdays game against the Rays. For the next few years hopefully.

But Jenks also sees those injuries as a blessing in disguise. It was in the process of preparing for surgery on his spine that a much more dangerous condition -- a pulmonary embolism -- was discovered.

The news was alarming to Jenks, who has no personal history or family history of such conditions.

Very scary because with something like that it can be very serious obviously, he said. But here Im in great hands. All the doctors have been wonderful, been taking great care of me. Its been a little bit relieving as far as mentally-wise knowing that Im in such good hands here.

But he does not know how the embolism formed.

Every test that Ive been through this last two weeks -- and I mean Ive been through the absolute wringer over here -- they dont know where it came from, he said. Theres nothing thats still in the veins. Theres nothing thats hereditary so what were thinking right now is possibly that when I left Florida going into Salem to make my rehab start that next day I felt just really sick, felt very fatigued when I went on the field, felt all the symptoms that come along with those and its not a hundred (percent) sure thats where it came from but thats the most likely thats when it happen.

Hes much better now.

Im doing very well, he said. Nothing life or death right now. Feeling very good. In another week or two Im going to start exercising again, start trying to get back on a regular routine and right now Im just on a lot of blood thinners. Just trying to take care of this thing first before we move on to looking at the spine and doing the back surgery again."

Jenks, 30, must wait for the embolism, which he said is not career-threatening, to dissolve before he can have surgery on his back.

Ive got two little growths that are coming off my spine, like two little hooks that have caused damage to my ligament just so much over the years that its actually calcified the ligament and is now causing nerve damage going into the left side, like underneath my scapula, he said. Thats why we thought for so long that it was muscle but it was actually all the nerves that are being locked down from the calcified tendon.

Jenks was told that these types of growths for pitchers are very uncommon.

This surgery for a pitcher, obviously not many have been done, he said. I dont even know if there has been, honest, but the doctor, Curt Wood, hes been very optimistic and positive about the process of it. Going in hell be quick, an hour, and hour-and-a-half surgery. So its a very easy, as far as they go, easy process."

Its not known how or why the growths developed.

No one can answer that, Jenks said. Over time they just kept building and continued and making things worse. The unfortunate thing is it happened to happen here, in my first year here. But looking at it, it would have happened regardless of where I was. It had just been built up for so many years now. Ill definitely be around. Im sticking around as long as possible.

His first season with the Sox, who signed him to a two-year, 12 million contract in December, has been disappointing for Jenks. He has missed 106 games (and counting) over three stints on the disabled list -- for a right biceps strain and left back tightness -- and has been hampered by other ailments in addition to embolism, including colitis. He has posted a record of 2-2 with a 6.32 ERA, giving up 13 walks with 17 strikeouts in 15 23 innings this season.

Obviously its very disappointing for me, he said. I came here with a lot of expectations on myself and a lot of things that I wanted to do for myself and the team this year. Its just a lot of bad luck this year and one of those things Ill have to put aside and as hard as its going to be sitting there during the playoffs. But coming back next year and being the best I can be, and even stronger. Before all this happened I was working really hard up in the weight room, taking care of myself, trying to get back on the field, so Im just going to continue that process and work into next year.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.