FORT MYERS, Fla. –– It was supposed to be a routine back surgery.
When Bobby Jenks went under the knife on Dec. 12 in Boston, the reliever was scheduled to have two of four bone spurs removed. Unbeknownst to Jenks, the surgeon botched the procedure by starting –– and then not finishing –– a third bone spur.
As the Red Sox hurler began his recovery phase, he noticed spinal fluid leaking from the surgical incision. Then, after a week, he experienced throbbing headaches. At that point, Jenks grew worried.
“The pain was just excruciating,” Jenks said Thursday. “I woke up in the middle of the night like literally someone hit me with a sledgehammer. I can’t explain it, other than like 10 times worse than any migraine I've ever had.”
It called for an emergency surgery on Dec. 28 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Although Jenks’ back was still sensitive from the previous procedure, he was forced to go under the knife immediately or the ramifications could’ve been fatal.
“If I didn’t have it done immediately, the infection could have gotten into my spinal fluid and up to my brain and who knows what happens then,” Jenks said. “Obviously I could not be here right now.”
The reliever showed up in the clubhouse noticeably slimmer. Because of the blood clot from a pulmonary embolism, Jenks had to wait six months before undergoing his back operation.
From June to December, the righty strictly worked on cardio. As his children watched movies every day, Jenks would plop onto a stationary bike and drastically trimmed off the weight.
As a result, the former White Sox closer hasn’t touched a baseball in quite some time.
“It’s just frustrating,” Jenks said. “I just keep trying to tell myself, if I was still in Chicago, this would have happened regardless. That’s the only thing I can think about. If I try to dwell on all the negative, it’s not going to make me better quicker.”
Even Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine called the pitcher’s offseason “terrible, health-wise.” With the long recovery ahead, the Red Sox placed Jenks on the 60-day disabled list moving forward.
“He’s a real back-burner guy,” Valentine said. “We don’t expect to see him in any baseball activities for a while.”
Litigation against the first surgeon could be on the horizon, but that’s a possibility that Jenks said he would leave to his confidants.
For now, Jenks will focus on rebounding from his second operation. Due to the short span between surgeries, the 30-year-old admitted his muscles were “torn open”, which left him bed-ridden for a few weeks.
“I just feel bad that coming here as a free agent, choosing to come here, wanting to come here, and this is what the team is getting from me right now,” Jenks said. “This is just disappointing and frustrating.”
Jenks will continue his rehabilitation at the JetBlue Park facility in Fort Myers until June.