White Sox sticking with Bobby Jenks as closer after all

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After a brief rest/demotion following a pair of ugly outings last week, Bobby Jenks is back to closing for the White Sox.
Here’s how manager Ozzie Guillen explained the situation:

I never took the job away from Jenks. I never did. I just said I want Jenks to throw the ball better and we will put him in a position to get back on track to see what he is. I keep saying this. We’re a good ball club. We’re a better ball club if Bobby is our closer because that makes a lot of things easier for us. He threw the ball better, yes he did. The sooner I see Bobby back on track, he will be back to what he does. I won’t hesitate. I will do it right away if we like the way he throws the ball. He will be back to his job.

Jenks has pitched just once since blowing a save against the Mariners last week, so it seems pretty clear that Guillen is telling the truth when he says it was never truly a demotion. He’s stuck with Jenks through plenty of rough patches, and while his ERA is a career-worst 4.95 right now he’s only blown two official saves in 22 chances.
Jenks is obviously no longer an elite closer, but using him strictly in the ninth inning does allow Guillen to mix and match the White Sox’s best relievers, Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz, more fluidly in setup roles.

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.