Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks said he is "100 percent" and excited about getting a new lease on his season.
Jenks will rejoin the Red Sox bullpen Tuesday prior to the team's meeting with the Chicago White Sox, ending a layoff of almost one month with a right bicep strain.
"I'm looking forward to getting back to where I was when I started the year and commanding all my pitches and pitching like I know I can," Jenks said Tuesday afternoon.
Signed to a two-year deal this offseason, Jenks' Red Sox career got off to a difficult start. He gave up 10 runs — nine earned — in just 8 2/3 innings before finally being put on the shelf. He admitted that he was feeling something in the arm for well over a week before he said anything, and was hoping to pitch through it.
That became an impossibility as the pain, and the ineffectiveness, only increased. Jenk said that he is grateful he spoke up when he did because the strain was very close to an all-out tear.
"It was a solid two-plus weeks that I was feeling this and thinking I could keep throwing through it," he said. "Fortunately, we just did catch it in time."
Jenks made two rehab outings for Triple-A Pawtucket, throwing one inning in both. His velocity, which never suffered due to the injury, remains strong. His command, which did suffer, is all the way back. At least that's the hope.
"The thing that was bothering him more than anything was the command," said manager Terry Francona.
Because of issues with the rotation early, which caused the team to play from behind for a solid two weeks, and then injuries to Jenks and Dan Wheeler, Francona has not been able to utilize his bullpen in the way he envisioned this winter. Jenks is so central in that effort.
"Hopefully, we can get him on a little bit of a roll," Francona said.
Michael Bowden was optioned back to Pawtucket to make room on the active roster for Jenks. Bowden threw two scoreless innings Monday night against the Chicago White Sox, Jenks' former team with whom he had an awkward divorce.
Jenks saw no irony that the opponent in his return to the mound is Chicago.
"It's water under the bridge to me," he said, while admitting he did have some regret for the barbs that were traded in the offseason. "I'm here with the Red Sox now. As much as I enjoyed my time in Chicago, my focus is on this organization here."
After a false start to his Red Sox career, Jenks can finally turn that focus into something that can benefit the bullpen.
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