Jenks gives up the bottle, sheds some pounds

Leave a comment

White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, whose reputation for hard partying preceded him to the majors, told MLB.com that he quit drinking over the winter and the decision has helped him lose 25 pounds.
Jenks claims he was never an alcoholic, but he said he felt the need to quit cold turkey for his sake and that of his family.
“Getting [drunk] every night. Let’s put it plain and simple,” Jenks said. “When I took a long, hard look at myself and saw where I was headed, at that point, I was headed in the wrong direction.”
Jenks has had run-ins with management in recent months, mostly about his weight and conditioning, but he said this was a decision he made on his own.
“I just got tired of it, plain and simple,” Jenks said. “When you want a bad habit out of your life, either you wean yourself off or you quit cold turkey.
With his salary up to $7.5 million and other possible closers already on the roster, Jenks knows he could be taking part in his last spring with the White Sox. It’s imperative that he put together a strong season if he expects to make similar dollars in 2011 and beyond. Taking better care of himself is an important first step. However, he realizes the next several months might be more challenging than the last few.
“Actually, it was both: tougher and easier than I thought,” said Jenks of giving up drinking. “During the season, on the plane rides, hanging out with the guys, that’s going to be the challenge, the real test comes this season. I’ve passed one this offseason. Spring training is next and then I’ll think about the season when it starts.

No one pounds the zone anymore

Getty Images
4 Comments

“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.