Cooper expects step up in 2010 from Jenks
Pitching coach Don Cooper tempers his look to the future with the fact that the White Sox still have two games remaining to play to complete the 2009 campaign.
But Cooper already has started putting together thoughts about individual improvements to benefit the whole staff in 2010, and one of those targets is closer Bobby Jenks.
“Bobby needs to pick up next year with a better season than he had this year,” said Cooper, when asked to assess the White Sox staff prior to Friday’s series opener in Detroit. “Bobby has run into a few things this year.”
Jenks battled through problems with kidney stones this season that were basically out of his control. He also was shut down last week with a strained right calf. Cooper mentioned an ongoing back issue, though, that might have contributed to Jenks’ 3.71 ERA and 29 saves in 35 chances–still good numbers but not equal to his lofty previous standards.
“Bobby has had a little bit of a back issue for two years and we can’t put our finger on exactly why,” Cooper said. “It’s kind of a freak thing. And Bobby had the calf thing.
“We have to look into somehow, someway trying to avoid two of those things because I don’t know if there’s much you can do about kidney stones. We have to try to look into each individual guy and what can we do to put them in better position so we don’t lose their availability.”
The White Sox closer, who has 146 career saves in 168 opportunities, could once again be the subject of offseason trade rumors. He figures to get an increase through arbitration from his $5.6 million salary in 2009, and the White Sox have another viable closer option in Matt Thornton. But Cooper is operating under the assumption that Jenks will be back as his last line of pitching defense, looking for ways to strengthen his attack.