Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Daryl Van Schouwen and Chris De Luca

Bobby Jenks uncensored ... read with an empty stomach

| 2 Comments | No TrackBacks

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The distinct grinding sound in the back of his throat was a clear message that the hocker was coming up into his mouth, ready to be discarded.
With the media surrounding him minutes after recording save No. 3 on the young season, Bobby Jenks didn't have a cup and certainly didn't want to use the floor of the visiting clubhouse of Tropicana Field as a destination of his loogie-art.
So, Jenks pulled back the White Sox warm-up he was wearing, and spit inside his chest area of the shirt. Then another. Then he grabbed the collar of the warm-up, and blew his nose into it. All before one question was asked.
Sure it was a scene right out of "Animal House.'' As a matter of fact, the only thing missing from the moment was Dean Wormer looking at Jenks and saying, "Mr. Blutarsky ... zero point zero.''
That's where pitching coach Don Cooper comes in.
"Is that all he did?'' Cooper asked, when the subject of his closer came up. "Bobby's got ... I mean how do I word this? Bobby's got a problem holding poop in sometimes. I know there are a couple times where he's been driving around, no bathroom available and he has to find the closest woods, a parking lot, the side of a Walgreens. That's what comes to mind when I think of Bobby.
"I want to say he had a problem in someone's swimming pool, but again, I haven't heard of it being a problem lately.''
The details of whose pool it was are sketchy at best.
But when one teammate was asked about it he did say, "The sad thing is it wasn't an accident.''
"Isn't that what you want from your closer, a guy that can handle difficult situations on the field and off the field?'' Cooper said. "So, he's not the most hygiene-conscious guy. Isn't that what a closer is all about?''
So what if he makes teammates uncomfortable off the field, because on the field, when that bullpen door opens in the ninth inning, they know what they have.
"That's the type of guy that when he gets out there it's just extreme confidence,'' outfielder Brian Anderson said. "You've got the confidence that there will be a guy throwing four-plus pitches for strikes, not to mention that if he has to throw 100 he probably still could. He defines the closers' role.
"As far as the other stuff, Bobby does whatever. It's all relative I guess, because he gets on me for doing things he feels are gross, like biting my nails. I have to remind him sometimes, 'You're really going to call me out on that when you do some of the stuff that you do?' ''
Jenks did say that he gets on Anderson when he bites his nails "right after they were in his nose.''
As far as the rest of his clubhouse behavior?
"Bad habits are easy to form, and you're around each other so much that you see everyone's little quirks,'' Jenks said. "As far as me spitting on my warm-up the other night, well, why not? If it's there.''
The fact is there are no complaints about Jenks once he takes the mound. Sure, there are still those that want to point out the drop in his velocity and strikeouts the past two seasons, forgetting that the former minor-league starter can pitch, not just throw, and has now opted to be more efficient than intimidating.
Why have a six-pitch at-bat throwing fastballs near 100, when he can get a hitter to groundout on two pitches with an Uncle Charlie that drops from 12 to 6?
"I want to sit you as quickly as possible,'' Jenks said. "Going out there 60, 70 times it could wear you down by September. Going out there and being efficient early, that's something you have to learn the more you do it. The goal is to be better at the end.
"It just takes time to learn that. Greg Maddux didn't become Greg Maddux his first two years.''
But what the Sox and his teammates really like about Jenks is he knows who he is and is comfortable with it. He's not walking around with delusions of still being a starter. He's a closer, period.
"It never crosses my mind,'' Jenks said. "The hardest thing for me to get a grasp on is knowing I'll never get to hit again, not that I won't ever be starting again. This is what I do.''
That sums it up perfectly. There's your closer Sox fans - a blue collar, barrel-chested, perfect fit for the South Side, closer. Embrace him.
And then make sure to wash your hands right after that.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://blogs.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/21861

2 Comments

Listening to the four of you on the radio during the rain delay. Great stuff!

Blotus, I listened too. Farmio and DJ sound surprisingly good together.

Joe Cowley = The Benedict Arnold of Chicago sportswriters, picking the Twins to win the Division.

Thanks, Joe.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Joe Cowley published on April 20, 2009 6:33 PM.

The dilemma that is center field was the previous entry in this blog.

Contreras staying put is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.