Jenks' ex-coach thinks he'll shine with Red Sox

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Jenks' ex-coach thinks he'll shine with Red Sox

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Art Kusnyer was with Bobby Jenks when the newest member of the Red Sox bullpen was at his best. And, he believes, Jenks can be that good again.

Jenks slipped in 2010, compiling a career-worst 4.44 ERA and registered just 27 saves. But Kusnyer, who was the Chicago White Sox' bullpen coach for Jenks' first three seasons in the big leagues, thinks a turnaround and return to form are possible.

"What happened last season, I don't know," said Kusnyer from his home in Florida. "The only thing I can tell you is wish I had been there. The guy still has great stuff. He can get it done. I know he's got big-time guts.

"I know in the past, he was a guy you could really count on. I think he needs a change of scenery. I think going to a team like Boston could be just the thing he needs."

Kusnyer recalls Jenks' 2005 season, when the rookie reliever took on the closer's role for the White Sox and helped them to their first World Series title since 1917.

"Right from the beginning, there was no fear there,'' recalled Kusnyer, who still works as a consultant for the White Sox. "He came straight from Double-A and the bullpen phone would ring. He'd throw one pitch and say, 'Tell them I'm ready.' He was all business out there.

"That's the type of mentality you want. I always said that it takes a certain mentality out there. And Bobby has it."

After parts of six seasons with the White Sox, Jenks will be starting over -- changing cities and changing roles.

"There's a comfort factor that comes from being with the same team for a number of years," said Kusnyer "You've got it made, people know what you can do. But when you someplace else, someplace new, there's a little bit of that, 'You've gotta put up or shut up.' "

And the fact that the White Sox elected to non-tender Jenks earlier this month, making him a free agent, may serve as extra motivation for the veteran reliever.

"Knowing him," said Kusnyer, "he'll say, 'OK, if they don't want me, I'll just go somewhere else.' "

The White Sox non-tendered him so they wouldn't be in danger of having him go to salary arbitration after a 7.5 million salary in 2010. But they remained interested enough in Jenks to offer him a two-year deal.

By then, however, Jenks had made a decision to move on.

With the Red Sox, Jenks will go from closing -- he amassed 173 saves with the White Sox -- to helping Daniel Bard set up for Jontahan Papelbon.

"I don't think the new role will be a problem,'' sad Kusnyer. "He'll settle in. That seventh and eighth inning can be just as important as the ninth. If you don't have the right guy to get you to your closer, you're not going anywhere as a team.

"Bobby will accept that role. He'll kind of be their closer within a closer.''

As the bullpen coach for the White Sox for two different stints and time spent in Oakland filling the same role, Kusnyer has experience working with elite closers. He worked with Bobby Thigpen when Thigpen set a major-league mark for most saves in a season (57) and also worked with Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley and Goose Gossage.

All of them, Kusnyer said, shared a similar competitive streak and intense makeup.

Jenks has a reputation for being something of a free spirit -- but only to a point.

"He would do his share of goofing around," said Kusnyer, "but when the bell rang, he'd be ready. I used to have to get on his ass a little bit. He got into a comfort stage and needed more direction. When that happens, you need to talk to him one-on-one. You can't be controntational with him. These guys have their pride and they don't like to be embarrassed.

"If there's a problem, you take him off to the side and deal with it. But I don't think there's going to be many problems. I think Bobby will take this opportunity and be as good in the seventh and eighth as he was closing.''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

BOSTON - The weight room, as much as Instagram, has been Pablo Sandoval’s home in the offseason leading up to the 2017 season.

His change in diet and routine have clearly led to visible results, at least in terms of appearance. His play is yet to be determined. But his manager and teammates have taken notice.

“Compliments to Pablo,” John Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner. “He’s done a great job with the work that he’s put in, the commitment he’s made. He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there’s work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance.”

Farrell noted that Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge are the other two players in contention for time at third base and while others, such as prospect Rafael Devers, may get time there in the spring, those are the only three expected to compete for the job.

“The beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp,” Farrell said. “And that was born out of third base last year [when Travis Shaw beat out Sandoval at the third base]. That won’t change.”

Sandoval's 2016 season ended after shoulder surgery in April. 

While the manager has to be cautiously optimistic, Sandoval’s teammates can afford to get their hopes up.

“Pablo is definitely going to bounce back,” Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com “Especially with the weight he’s lost and the motivation he has to prove a lot of people wrong, to prove the fans wrong.

“He’s been a great player for his whole career. He’s not a bad player based on one year. Playing in Boston the first year is tough, so, hopefully this year he’ll be better.”

Prior to Sandoval’s abysmal 2015, his first season in Boston, when he hit .245 with 47 RBI in 126 games, the 2012 World Series MVP was a career .294 hitter who averaged 15 home runs and 66 RBI a year.

If Bogaerts is right and Sandoval can be that player again, that will be a huge lift in filling in the gap David Ortiz left in Boston’s offense.

Scott's taste of big-league life with Red Sox has him hungering for more

Scott's taste of big-league life with Red Sox has him hungering for more

CHESNUT HILL -- The Red Sox Rookie Development Program is designed to help young players prepare for what playing at the major-league level is like,. That can be valuable for a prospect like Rafael Devers, who hasn’t even made it to Double-A.

But of the eight-man cast at the workout this year, there’s one guy who actually has major-league experience.

Robby Scott joined the Red Sox as a September call-up last season and turned some heads, holding opponents scoreless over six innings of work.

Now the lefty is back working with younger guys to prepare himself for spring training -- something he’s itching to get started.

“It’s one thing that we always talk about,” the left-handed reliever told CSNNE.com “It’s a tough road to get there, but it’s an even tougher and harder road to stay there. And having that taste in September last year was incredible to be a part of it.”

That taste Scott had last fall has only made the desire to rejoin Boston greater.

“Yeah, because now you know what it’s like,” Scott said CSNNE.com. “You see it and you’re there and you’re a part of it. And it’s like, ‘Man, I wanna be there.’ You’re a little bit more hungry.”

And his hunger to pitch with the Red Sox only becomes greater at an event like this where he’s the only one with MLB time.

“They ask on a consistent basis,” Scott started, “ ‘What’s it like?’ ‘What was it like getting there the first day?’ ‘How did the guys react?’ ‘What was it like dealing with the media?’

“That’s what this program is here for, just to kind of gives these guys a little taste of what it is like and get familiar with the circumstances.

While the experience and constant discussion invites players to try to do more in the offseason or change their routine, the 27-year-old has stayed the course, trusting what’s gotten him there.

“The offseason training stays the same, nothing really changes on that side of things,” Scott said. “Nothing changes. Go about my business the way I have the last six, seven years.”