Jenks shrugs off doubters

Bobby Jenks was warming up in the bullpen Wednesday night, getting ready to come in and protect a one-run lead in the ninth inning against the Mariners, as he has done so many times before at U.S. Cellular Field.

But something was a little different on this night. At least one fan was a bit more focused on a blown save in Seattle last week and a tough ninth-inning loss he suffered against Minnesota on the first Sunday of the second half then his overall body of work.

“Before I got in the game, some (idiot) was out there telling me I (stink),” Jenks told MLB.com after striking out the side for his 21st save. “You know, where has he been the last six years that I’ve been doing my job?

“Situations like that, it bothers me a little bit. But not enough to where it affects me. I look at it and say, ‘Who is this guy? Does he know baseball?’

“Is he a fan or just a numbers guy and looks at the numbers and judges where I’m at. And obviously my numbers aren’t good,” said a defiant Jenks with a laugh. “I’ve had a few bad ones so far. All and all, in save situations, I’ve been doing my job when I’ve been healthy out there.”

Jenks has served as the White Sox full-time closer for the past five years. Arguably, the hard-throwing right-hander, who touched 99 mph on his fastball against the Mariners, stands as one of the most important White Sox additions in the last decade and possibly longer than that particular time frame.

The 2005 squad was dominant from start to finish in winning the team’s first World Series title in almost nine decades. But Jenks became that missing late-inning piece, with Dustin Hermanson injured, plucked by the White Sox from their system without losing a player via the trade route.

Since becoming the team’s last line of pitching defense, Jenks has amassed 167 saves to put him second behind Bobby Thigpen’s 201 career saves on the all-time franchise list. He was the second-fastest to 100 career saves behind Seattle’s Kaz Sasaki in Major League Baseball history, needing just 187 games, and of course, tied the Major League record of 41 consecutive batters retired in 2007, a mark since broken by teammate Mark Buehrle.

Yet, Jenks believes the respect he deserves is not always afforded to him–from the media, fans and even the organization, although he doesn’t come out and say it. Jenks knows how he simply has to save his talking for the field, as he did on Wednesday, by knocking down Franklin Gutierrez, Russell Branyan and Justin Smoak on strikes.

Blowing saves is part of a closer’s job, and it also is the one time a closer is sure to get attention. The veteran Jenks is able to separate his own feelings about the role he has talked about being born to fulfill with important perspective on what the team needs to be successful.

“Regardless of what happens, everyone on the bench is under a lot of pressure, and winning the division is the most important thing,” Jenks said. “If a certain situation calls for where (manager Ozzie Guillen) thinks I’m struggling, and maybe I am, and three lefties are coming up or two lefties and a righty, and (Guillen) goes to (left-hander Matt) Thornton, I got to understand a little bit because it’s still a team of 25 guys.

“It hurts a little. Yeah, I’m not going to lie. But it’s part of the game and you have to roll with it some time. When you do get the ball, go out there and do what you know how to do best. Hopefully, it turns things around and gets it going again.”

Before the road struggles, Jenks had recorded 15 straight saves. He hopes Wednesday’s domination starts another string of at least 15 and points up one of the game’s elite closers, even if one fan on Wednesday might disagree.

“He had two bad games, and it (stinks) for a closer or a bullpen to go out there and have one bad inning and everyone kind of wants your head, you’re losing your job,” said Mark Buehrle, who had a no-decision in Wednesday’s victory. “I think everybody has confidence in him. He has to go out there and continue to do what he’s doing now.”

5 Comments

That fan is right. I just don’t trust Jenks. ( Nothing Personal ) He’s good for giving up that important run. Of course he can blow away a team like Seattle. Just wait until our backs are against the wall and need to hold a slime lead.

Just can’t trust Jenks. Thornton should be the closer

Jenks looks way too overweight to be in condition to be on
top of his game day in and day out. That’s what a closer
needs to be, available every day since he typically only throws 1 inning.

How can you say you can “trust” Thornton over Jenks, especially after Thornton 2/3 of an inning with 2 hits and getting the bases loaded? I have said it before I will take Jenks’ career 87% (167/191) save ratio to Thronton’s 41% (14 of 34) save ratio for the Sox. Bobby has only blown 2 saves this year and so has Thrornton. Thornton has pitched for the Sox for 5 years now. Bobby is the guy and he will be one of the greats. Sit back and enjoy the ride, Jenks is on pace for over 400 saves in his career, numbers only the best will ever get to, and I want him to do it in a Sox uniform.

Bobby has been one of our best players since 2005. He helped us win a world series and he deserves a lot more respect than he gets from Sox fans these days. Don’t let the punks get you down Bobby! True Sox fans have your back! Like Hawk says: “Bobby is the toughest, mentally, player that I have seen in a White Sox uniform.”

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