Jenks on the spot–fair or not
There wasn’t much Bobby Jenks could say about his stiff back upon arriving at the White Sox clubhouse in Camden Yards Sunday morning. At that point, he hadn’t even tested the troublesome area.
So, Jenks simply gave a thumbs-up sign to the interested media and said his back was fine about an hour before playing long toss with Scott Linebrink on the field.
As for Jenks’ hold on the closer’s role, that status has become a bit more tenuous.
An argument could be made as to how the extreme scrutiny on every blown save or late loss coming from Jenks is a bit unfair. Here is a man who has been one of the game’s best closers over the past six years and truly one of the most important additions ever made to the White Sox franchise.
And take the same sort of struggles faced by Jenks since the All-Star break and apply them out to a hitter, as an example. If Alex Rios goes 0-for-30, he certainly won’t lose his starting job in center field. Then again, Rios might get a day or two off to get things back in order at the plate–all purely hypothetical, of course.
So, look at J.J. Putz’s move to the closer’s role as being more about Jenks’ back stiffness and a chance for him to regroup.
“I never take the job away from him because he blow a game,” said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen of Jenks. “He blow the game in (Game 2 of) the World Series, and the next day he was my guy. I just worry about what I see and what my pitching coach sees.
“You look at the record, and I don’t say we do him a favor. I have faith in him to be my closer, and you look at (Matt) Thornton and Putz and the way they throw the ball all year long, I don’t worry about that. I know those guys are going to do their job.
“Bobby has a lot of setbacks. Calve, back,” Guillen said. “He come out and pitch good for us. He does, and I never will take someone’s job just because.”
Since the second half began, Jenks has posted a 0-2 record with a 10.56 ERA. He blew a save in Seattle on July 21. He blew a save in Detroit on Aug. 5. He lost a game in Minneapolis on July 18.
Maybe Jenks doesn’t like working on getaway days. In all seriousness, just as Mark Buehrle goes through stretches of starts where opposing teams knock him around the ballpark, Jenks will not be perfect in every save opportunity. His rough outings gain greater notoriety because they obviously come at the end.
Guillen didn’t feel the need to explain his thought process to Jenks. He’s just waiting for his reliever to get fully healthy before possibly making him his closer again.
“When Bobby tells me ‘I’m healthy,’ (White Sox pitching coach Don) Cooper and myself have a job to do to put him on the spot to see how he throws,” Guillen said. “And then we make a decision. I’m not the type of guy to say, ‘You ready?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘OK here it is.’ I don’t think that’s fair for a ballclub.
“To me, the team is first, that’s it. And I’m going to give the team the best shot to win. I don’t say Bobby is not the best shot to win because I always say, if Bobby’s our closer, this bullpen will be better. But if not, we’ll find a way to do it.”
In a tight battle for the American League Central title, it’s all about what have you done for me lately–whether that reasoning is fair or not.
“Every day you come here you have to prove yourself,” Guillen said. “As a manager, as a coach, as a media member. If I’m going to read your stuff, I don’t want to read the same stuff every day.
“Players, coaches, trainers. Everybody that has a job has to prove themselves every day and show everybody how good they are. That’s it. No matter who you are, you have to come here every day and prove yourself. That’s how good players think. ‘I have to be better than yesterday.’
“Life is about that, to prove to people you’re good every day,” Guillen said. “It doesn’t just have to be once a week. It isn’t just about Bobby, it’s everybody. And that’s just how life is, unfortunately.”