The Rays pounded out 19 hits on Thursday, scoring 15 runs in a rout of the Twins. Six of those hits went for extra bases, including homers from Casey Kotchman and Ben Zobrist.
Uninvited to the party, though, was Reid Brignac. He managed just a single in five at-bats. The Rays’ starting shortstop has now had 57 at-bats this season and hasn’t managed a double, a triple or a homer in any of them.
That’s quite a change for Brignac, who was annointed the Rays’ starting shortstop after Jason Bartlett was traded to the Padres. He earned the job by collecting eight homers and 13 doubles in 301 at-bats last year. He drove in 45 runs. At that pace over a full season of 550 at-bats, he would have finished with 15 homers and 82 RBI. In his major league career, he had managed an extra-base hit every 12 at-bats.
But to start 2011, Brignac has gone four weeks without one and he’s lost some playing time as a result. It’s enough to make one wonder whether the Rays might send him down when Evan Longoria comes off the DL next week. They’d lose something defensively by going that route, but they do have three shortstop alternatives on the roster in Felipe Lopez, Sean Rodriguez and Elliot Johnson.
Bobby Jenks was a key part of the 2005 world champion White Sox. By 2010, his effectiveness as a closer fell off and he signed with the Boston Red Sox for the 2011 season. He’d pitch in only 19 games that year, suffer a back injury and would never pitch again.
In the year or so after that, we heard that Jenks was arrested for driving under the influence. And then we heard that his back surgery was botched, and his baseball career was over. Then, after years of silence, we learned last spring that Jenks won $5.1 million in a medical malpractice suit against the doctor who performed his surgery.
We did not, however, know all the details until Bobby Jenks wrote about them at the Players’ Tribune this morning. This is must-click link stuff, folks.
Jenks talks about how a seemingly innocuous pitch to Jorge Posada in an early-season Red Sox-Yankees game in 2011 was the last pitch he’d ever throw. He talks about the presumably simple surgery that would supposedly get him back on the field. And then the scary complications in which he almost died due to leaking spinal fluid resulting from the botched surgery. Then, after using painkillers to deal with back pain, Jenks’ fell into drug addiction, all of which culminated in him finding himself half-naked and crazed in a car that didn’t belong to him with police and rescue workers surrounding him.
Jenks got clean but his wife left him. And then he mounted a multi-year lawsuit during which he learned that the reason his back surgery was screwed up was because the surgeon was performing two surgeries at one time, which is an apparently common practice called “concurrent surgery,” that sounds like it totally should NOT be a common practice.
Yet Jenks has survived. He’s been sober for over seven years and he seems to be in a good place. But boy did he have to go through something harrowing to get there. Definitely take the time to read it.