Boston Red Sox ink Bobby Jenks deal to bolster bullpen

AFP, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

Thu, Dec 23, 2010 - Page 19

The Boston Red Sox finalized a two-year, US$12 million contract with former White Sox closing pitcher Bobby Jenks on Tuesday, further shoring up a bullpen that was a weak link last season.

Though Jenks was the closer for Chicago when they won the World Series in 2005, that role of closing out victories in the ninth inning will remain with Jonathan Papelbon in Boston.

“We feel really lucky that Bobby wanted to pitch here and that we were able to get someone of his caliber to help Dan Bard set up for Papelbon,” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. “Hopefully, he will be part of a ‘pen that will be one of the best we’ve had in Boston.”

Jenks saved 27 games for the White Sox last season but lost his closing job at the end of the year as he struggled with a forearm problem.

“It was more of a scare for everyone than something that was actually wrong. Medically, I was cleared to go,” Jenks said. “Going into this spring I’m going to be 100 percent and ready to go.”

The Red Sox have also added right-handers Matt Albers and Dan Wheeler to a bullpen that had the third-worst ERA in the American League last season.

“We’ve added a lot of depth, a lot of experience, a lot of power arms and strike-throwers to our ‘pen,” Epstein said.

Even though he won’t be their closer, Jenks said he’s happy to be joining a team he supported as a youngster.

“I’m just excited to get with the team that they’re putting together this year,” he said. “It’s all mental. You’ve just got to go out there and stay more focused.”