Bobby Jenks

Bobby Jenks opens up about brush with death, painkiller addiction

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Bobby Jenks helped etch his name in history as part of the 2005 world champion White Sox roster. It seemed like the sky was the limit for the right-hander, who struck out 50 and unintentionally walked 12 in 39 1/3 innings in 2005, his rookie campaign. By 2009 and 2010, his effectiveness had been lost and the White Sox didn’t make an effort to keep him around, instead allowing him to walk into free agency. The Red Sox snapped him up for the 2011 season. Jenks suffered a pulmonary embolism, serious in and of itself, but it also delayed surgery on his back.

Jenks opened up to CSN Chicago about what happened back then, including a brush with death and an addiction to painkillers. The whole thing is worth your time, but here is a selection:

“I ended up opening myself up in two different spots in my spine and I was leaking spinal fluid very heavily about a week after my surgery. I didn’t realize it at the time until I went to go sit down on the couch, it literally felt that one of my kids was behind me and had dumped a glass of water down my back.”

What the former White Sox star didn’t know was just how bad the problem really was.

“My back was literally like a faucet left on and fluid was just coming out. I went to see a few doctor friends in Arizona and they immediately told me, ‘go to the emergency room right now’ and I went in for emergency that night (with Dr. Chris Young). Without that I could’ve gone to bed that night and not woken up.”

Thankfully, Jenks is better now and he’s been sober for 18 months. In addition, Jenks says he would like to attempt to pitch his way back into the big leagues before he officially calls it quits.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.