FORT MYERS, Fla. Red Sox right-hander Bobby Jenks is in camp, looking several pounds leaner. While the weight loss a lot, enough, he said without giving a number was planned, the two surgeries he had on his back this offseason were not.
Jenks, who is entering the final year of a two-year, 12 million contract, appeared in just 19 games, spanning just 15 23 innings last season, posting a record of 2-2 with a 6.32 ERA. He was limited by a variety of ailments, including a pulmonary embolism, left back tightness, and right biceps strain.
The plan was for Jenks to have surgery on his back in the offseason, but he had to wait for the embolism to dissolve on its own.
Jenks, who was placed on the 60-day disabled list earlier this week to make room for right-hander Chris Carpenter, had the surgery on his back at Massachusetts General Hospital on Dec. 12. But serious complications from that procedure led to an emergency follow-up surgery in Scottsdale, Ariz., near his home.
Obviously my winter didnt go very well, Jenks said. I got here a few days early, just tried to get in as much as I can before. Im starting the season on the DL so I got plenty of time to get myself as right as I can."
With the whole blood clot issue last year I couldnt have the surgery until December. So all the way up until that point I was basically just doing nothing but cardio and just trying to get myself as strong as possible going into the surgery. I had the surgery on the 12thof December. It didnt go that great. I had to have an emergency surgery done on the 30thto correct what happened in the prior surgery. Went in, had it fixed, and been pretty much laid up for the last two months.
Jenks is not exactly sure what went wrong in the first surgery, but a potentially life-threatening infection developed.
I dont know whose fault it was but there was an error done inside, Jenks said. When I went in for a consultation, we had talked about having, because I had four bones spurs basically on my spine and we talked about taking the top two out. The third one was started and not finished. So basically there was like a serrated edge, and it sliced me open in two different spots, and I was leaking spinal fluid and it just pulled up the bottom of my incision and kind of blew up on me, which caused an infection to climb up that incision. So now I had an infection in my spine. So it was just a combination of everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.
Jenks, who turns 31 on March 14, had the surgery on Dec. 12 and stayed in Boston for about 10 days to recover, he said, before flying home to Arizona. It was on Dec. 28 when he started not to feel good.
It happened like on the 28thand the incision opened up, he said. I didnt know what to think. So I just kind of waited a couple of days thinking it was going to stop and close itself back up, taped it up and bandaged it. There was that constant leak, and thats when I worried and went in and saw the doctor. He told me what was going on. That was on the morning of the 30thand I was in the hospital that afternoon. So it was pretty serious."
If I didnt have the second surgery done immediately, the infection could have gotten into my spinal fluid and into my brain. Who knows what happens then. Obviously not be here right now.
Jenks said he is recovering well from the second surgery. But having the two procedures so close together was very, very painful. And I think thats why I got laid up for so much longer the second time.
He has no timetable on a return to pitching. He hasnt picked up a baseball since last season. For now, hes just focusing on getting healthy.
But things have not gone the way he would have liked since joining the Sox as a free agent before last season.
So frustrating, he said. Obviously coming here I never expected to have a season like this. I just feel bad that coming here as a free agent, deciding and choosing to come here, wanting to come here, and this is what the team is getting from me right now and its just disappointing and frustrating.
Asked if there is a chance he will not pitch this season, Jenks replied:
You know, I dont know right now. With everything going on right now Im just trying to stay focused on one day here at a time. I cant focus on that now because Im going to be here rehabbing in Fort Myers until June anyway. And thats just going to kill me mentally, and I got to stray strong and positive right now.
With the departure of Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies as a free agent and with Daniel Bard slated to be part of the rotation, a healthy and productive Jenks could have been a candidate to take over the closers role. For now, though, he cant think of that.
At this point I miss the rush of being on the field, he said. It feels like that I havent pitched in an entire year, even though I did start the season and started well. But it went downhill so fast that I didnt have time to enjoy anything. So I really dont think worrying about closing right now is an option. Just worrying about doing everything I can to get back out on the field is number one.