Bobby Jenks opens up about brush with death, painkiller addiction

11 Comments

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.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

Getty Images
1 Comment

It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.