FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Last week, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said reliever Bobby Jenks had experienced an "horrendous off-season health-wise.''
Valentine wasn't kidding.
Jenks spoke to reporters Thursday morning and recounted his medical ordeal in which he was forced to undergo two surgeries on his back after the first one resulted in some incisions being made into his spinal column, causing a potentially fatal leakage of spinal fluid.
The first surgery, on Dec. 12, took place at Massachusetts General Hospital under the auspices of the Red Sox, was apparently botched. He underwent a second, emergency surgery four weeks later in Scottsdale, Az.
"He had a difficult off-season,'' said GM Ben Cherington of Jenks. "He's frustrated by where he is, physically and he is making progress. We're going to do whatever we can to help him get back to pitching and we remain hopeful that he can help us this year. It was a difficult ordeal for him, last season and over the off-season.
"We were very aware (of the problem after the first procedure). He appeared to be recovering and then had increased symptoms and was in touch with our medical staff. That's why we had him seen again in Phoenix and it was determined that he needed a second procedure. The second procedure seems to have solved the issue and now he's in recovery.''
Cherington said he didn't have enough expertise to comment about "exactly what happened" with the first surgery.
"All I know is that the second procedure needed to happen,'' he said. "That's unfortunate with any player that requires a surgery. You don't want to have to go back in and do anything a second time that soon thereafter. But I can't speak to the specifics of what happened in the first procedure. It's not my area.''
Cherington said the problem with Jenks's back was not a factor in his decision to overhaul the team's medical staff.
"The changes we made in the medical staff were in motion well before his (first) surgery and then subsequent surgery,'' he said. "So they weren't related to each other.''
The general manager said the team "looked back to find out as much as we could . . . We can understand Bobby's frustration. All we can do now is help him move forward and hopefully help the team.''
Cherington said there was no timetable for Jenks to resume baseball activities, with the emphasis on him becoming asymptomatic and regaining full range of motion.
He said "there was more than one doctor involved,'' in the first procedure and that the club would release additional information later Thursday.