By Sean McAdam
FORT MYERS, Fla. - His new teammates had already taken part in two college games and four Grapefruit League contests, but all Bobby Jenks could do was watch. The Red Sox wanted Jenks to take his time before pitching in a game.
Finally, Jenks got his chance Thursday, making his Red Sox debut with an inning of one-hit scoreless relief against the Philadelphia Phillies.
"It actually went a little better than I expected," said Jenks after the Sox' 2-0 defeat. "I made some very good pitches. Threw the ball exactly where I wanted to for the most part today so, all in all, it was a really good day."
"I thought the ball came out of hand really well," said Terry Francona. "I think he's been a notoriously slow starter in spring training. But the ball came out of his hand really good."
Jenks threw some four-seam fastballs, two-seam fastballs, a cutter and a few changeups. In his next outing, he'll begin to integrate his breaking ball.
He's committed to improving his changeup this year "and make that a really good pitch for me." The one he threw which Shane Victorino smoked for a double, Jenks joked, was "more like a changedown.''
A scout watching Jenks on Thursday had his four-seam fastball at 92-93 mph and his two-seamer, or sinker, at 88-90 mph.
"Velocity, I don't care about until come the start of the season time," he said. "Right now, as long as I'm feeling healthy and feeling strong . . . I felt really mechanically sound today."
Jenks said his transition from closer for the White Sox to set-up man for the Red Sox will be a work in progress.
"I'm going to have to just wait and see when we get there," he said. "It's going to be one of those day-to-day adjustments."
"I think the biggest adjustment for him will be controlling the running game," said Francona. "For some reason, teams get into the ninth inning and don't want to end the game with a guy standing in the box and a guy thrown out stealing. In the seventh and eighth innings, they're a little bit more willing to run. So that's something we'll keep an eye on as spring progresses -- holding runners, things like that.
"His stuff is plenty good, no matter what innings he pitches. I think teams will be a little more apt to run if he pitches the seventh or eighth."