Jenks at a loss to explain struggles


Jenks at a loss to explain struggles

By Jessica Camerato

BOSTON - Bobby Jenks stood up at his locker and addressed the media with brutal honesty.

He had just given up two earned runs in one inning, blown a save, and picked up his second loss of the season. Jenks lay his frustrations on the line.

I dont even know what to say right now, he said. Im going out there, I feel terrific. All my stuff is there, just the results arent. I dont know what to make of it.

The Boston Red Sox had a 4-3 lead over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night when Jenks entered the game in the seventh inning. They had been 9-0 this season when leading after six innings. The Mariners, on the other hand, were 1-12 when trailing after six. That all changed when the Mariners scored a pair of runs off two doubles, a single, and a walk off Jenks to take a deciding 5-4 lead.

After starting the season with four hitless outings, Jenks (1-2, 8.64 ERA) is left searching for answers that are hard to come by.

It seems like every time Im going out there right now, everythings just seeming to find a hole or flare in somewhere, he said. They are good hitters, but the way Im feeling right now, it shouldnt be happening.

So how does the pitcher, who has earned 173 saves over his career, find a way out of this situation? For Jenks, the answer to that question isnt difficult at all.

Its just the competitor in you, he told Going out there, obviously you arent thinking, Im going to go out there and give up two leadoff singles or doubles or whatever. Just that competitiveness thats inside you, thats what fuels me.

Jenks feels mentally strong. His confidence, regardless of how many hits he gives up, is not wavering. He looks ahead to the next pitch rather than getting psyched out by the last one.

Im out there if I get a guy on, Im getting a double play that next pitch, he said. Mentally, Im there. Im not thinking bad things.

Seven years in the Majors has taught Jenks the importance of staying focused and cool under pressure. He doesnt give himself any rah-rah pep talks on the mound. He finds it is more beneficial to take a step back and assess the situation.

In those moments you dont really want to psyche yourself up, he explained. You want to slow the game down. When Tek comes out there, he wants to get your breath under your control, starting thinking clearly, making smart pitches. Thats where that all comes into play, through experience.

Like Jenks himself, Jason Varitek believes the pitcher will turn his outings around.

We need Bobby, and Bobbys stuff is good, Varitek told Hes good. And hes going to have a lot more outs than hes going to give up runs.

He continued, Weve got his back. I really 100 percent believe that hes been just kind of a product of some weird stuff going on. And when those things happen, weve just got to slow the game down and the do the things we have to do to make sure were ok. He could have really let that game get away, and he didnt.

Jenks will continue to review game film and analyze his pitches. He has a sense of urgency to get better now so that the Red Sox can enjoy victory later on in the season.

Said Jenks, I got some work to do obviously for numbers-wise, but when we win this stuff, were going to look back and not remember April.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba

Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona


Red Sox exec Amiel Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona

The Red Sox lost another key member of their front office Monday, when vice-president of amateur and international scouting Amiel Sawdaye followed former general manager Mike Hazen to Arizona.

Sawdaye will be the Diamondbacks' assistant GM. As stated by Rotoworld, he had been instrumental in building up the Red Sox' young big league talent and farm system.

The Boston Globe reported today that the Red Sox may not fill the GM vacancy created when Hazen left, instead using "other staffers to take on Hazen’s administrative duties". President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski handles many of the duties traditionally associated with the general manager's position, leaving the actual GM's job in Boston as "essentially an assistant [position] with a lofty title but little power".

The Red Sox have also lost two other front-office members this offseason: Senior baseball analyst Tom Tippett, who had been with the organization for eight years, and director of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek, who had been with the Sox for five years.

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

Sometime over the next 10 or so days, either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians will win the 2016 World Series.

Naturally, that will mean one of baseball's two longest-suffering franchises will end their championship drought. Either the Cubs will win their first title since 1908, or the Indians will win for the first time since 1948.

That alone should make for an epic World Series.

But there's another bit of history at stake, too - one of legacies.

In addition to the great discomfort felt by Red Sox ownership -- which fired the manager of one participating team and was seemingly happy to hold the door open for the exit of an executive now running the other - it will also almost certainly result, eventually, in either Terry Francona or Theo Epstein being enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Epstein would go down as the architect who helped two star-crossed franchises win titles - the Red Sox in 2004, and the Cubs this fall.

The Red Sox went 86 years between championships; the Cubs would be ending a run of futility that stretched across 108 seasons.

That would provide Epstein with an unmatched resume when it comes to degree of difficulty. It's one thing to win it all; it's another altogether to do so with the Sox and Cubs, two clubs, until Epstein's arrival, linked in ignominy.

Epstein could become only the fourth GM in modern history win a World Series in both leagues. Frank Cashen (Orioles and Mets); John Schuerholz (Royals and Braves) and Pat Gillick (Blue Jays and Phillies).

He would also join a short list of executives who have won three rings, a list that includes contemporaries Brian Cashman and Brian Sabean.

Of course, Epstein can't claim to have constructed the entire Cubs roster, no more than he could have done when the Red Sox won in '04.

In Boston, Epstein inherited key players such as Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. Similarly, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras pre-date Epstein's arrival on the North Side.

But Epstein is responsible for nearly the remainder of the roster, and hiring manager Joe Maddon, the coaching staff and most of the Baseball Operations staff, including GM Jed Hoyer and scouting director Jason McLeod.

Francona's influence on the Indians is just as obvious.

Hired in late 2012 after spending a year in the ESPN broadcast booth, he inherited a team which had suffered through four straight losing seasons. In the five previous years before Francona's hiring, the Indians averaged just over 72 wins per season.

Since his arrival, the Indians have posted four straight winning seasons, with two playoff appearances, while averaging 88 wins per season.

It hasn't seemed to matter to the Indians that they've been without two of their three best starters (Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco) this postseason or arguably, their best offensive player for all but 11 games this season (Michael Brantley).

The Indians don't make excuses for injuries, or bemoan their modest payroll. Under Francona, they just win.

This postseason, he's made up for the absences in the rotation by masterfully utilizing reliever Andrew Miller anywhere from the fifth to the ninth inning.

A third World Series would put Francona in similarly rare company. Only 10 managers have won three or more World Series and just six have done so since World War 2 - Walter Alston, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bruce Bochy Sparky Anderson and Casey Stengel.

The individual accomplishments of Epstein and Francona won't take center stage this week and next -- that attention will, rightly, go to their respective beleaguered franchises.

But the subtext shouldn't be overlooked. Once the partying and the parades come to an end, a path to Cooperstown for either the winning manager or winning president of baseball operations can be cleared.