Sunday, May 9, 2010
By Chuck Garfien
During spring training, I asked Ozzie Guillen a simple question.
How much rope does Bobby Jenks have this season?
Ozzie needed about a millisecond to respond.
Hes got a lot of rope, the White Sox manager said. "Hes my man. I know we have a few people in the bullpen, but Im going to give him the best opportunity until he cant anymore.
Judging by his last two performances, and comments made by Ozzie Guillen after the game, Jenks days as the White Sox closer could be numbered.
Not just because he is not retiring hitters with the ease of 2005-2008, but with the White Sox fading further and further behind the first-place Twins, they can no longer digest ninth-inning collapses like Jenks had this past weekend.
The first was a solo shot to John Buck in the ninth on Friday night, which broke a three-all tie. That was bad. But nothing like what happened on Sunday.
It being Mothers Day, it was the Mother of All meltdowns.
After coming back from a 5-3 deficit to take a two-run lead in the eighth, coupled with Jake Peavys gem over the Blue Jays on Saturday, you could feel the momentum strongly swinging the White Sox way. They had the confidence. They had the mojo. They had Bill Melton, Frank Thomas and I on the CSN Postgame set, ready to sing their praises. It all seemed to be in perfect rhythm.
But then, the needle flew off the turntable.
Or if youre under the age of 18, the iPod, like, totally crashed.
Travis Snyder doubled to center.
John Buck singled to right (I think weve seen enough of John Buck for about a decade).
And then ... the dagger.
Fred Lewis, with 17 career home runs on his resume, belted that three-run homer to right, making it 8-7, Blue Jays. They eventually won, 9-7. At least I think they did. Hawk Harrelson was so distraught he swallowed part of his microphone.
So what do the Sox do now?
After the game, Guillen hinted that changes in the bullpen are coming, at least in the short term.
We have a lot of options, and we are going to search for ones, Guillen said. Maybe the next couple of days, I might use someone different just to see if Bobby can regroup and come back to his form.
As for Jenks, who now has a 6.75 ERA this season, he disagrees. Asked if he might soon find himself out of the closer role, the struggling reliever said, No, that doesnt even make sense.
What does make sense is that a loss like Sundays has the Sox teetering perilously close to Kenny Williams danger zone. The Sox general manager wants to win, and badly. But with his team seriously deflated by this tough loss and heading into of all places, Minnesota, for a two-game series, if the Sox are unable to quickly recover and lose both games, do the math.
Theyll be 10 games out.
The season wont be over. But Kennys patience with this club might be.
Even through the fog of Sundays loss, Jenks could clearly see the magnitude of what lies ahead.
This is probably, especially this early, the most important road trip weve got coming up, Jenks said. Especially against the Twins. It might only be two games, but they are both big games. Weve got to battle back. Were behind in the division, so these are going to be big.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.