Bobby Jenks made headlines last month for suggesting that the White Sox weren’t treating him fairly regarding his injuries and conditioning, at which point general manager Ken Williams publicly stated that Jenks should focus on losing some weight.
Despite that back and forth in the media, Williams made it clear today that he has no plans to trade the portly closer who blew four of his final 11 save attempts before finishing the season on the disabled list with a calf injury. Sort of:
He’s my closer, and I haven’t had one trade discussion about him. That’s not to say I wouldn’t entertain anything, but I’m not going out there actively having talks. He’s one of the game’s better closers and people need closers, but so do we.
Listen, we speak our minds and we don’t stop the players from speaking their minds. We are all grown men here. Nothing that has been said to [the media], whether through Ozzie or me or Bobby, nothing that has been said hasn’t already been said behind closed doors.
Setting aside any public spats and hurt feelings, Jenks is about to get very expensive via arbitration and his performance has slipped in recent years. He earned $5.6 million this season, will get a raise for 2010, and his Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) has gone from 2.94 during his first three seasons with the White Sox to 3.84 over the past two years.
Jenks remains a good closer, but his performance has declined to the point that he’s no longer elite, he doesn’t seem like a good bet to age particularly well, he figures to earn around $18 million over the next two seasons before becoming a free agent, and the White Sox are reportedly already up against their payroll limit. Williams may not be looking to deal Jenks, but he’d be smart to listen to offers with an open mind.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.