Bobby Jenks: Nice to be out of Chicago

Former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks will be saddled as a setup reliever with the Boston Red Sox.

But Jenks, a two-time All-Star who amassed 173 saves in six seasons with Chicago, says a fresh start is in order as the Red Sox prepare for spring training in Fort Myers, Fla.

"A lot of the stuff with [White Sox manager] Ozzie [Guillen] and the front office gets old," the right-hander said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "It has been a problem for a long time. It was a problem before last year. It was a problem before last year. ...
It's going to be nice for me to see how things are done here."

Jenks, 29, signed with the Red Sox as a free agent this offseason. Jenks is aware he wasn't brought in to supplant Jonathan Papelbon in the closer's role, and says the change will be worth it.

"I did like it in Chicago," Jenks said to the Tribune on Thursday. "It was a good place for me and my family. The people there were always respectful. I lived there year-round for six years."

Guillen fired back Saturday from the White Sox's spring training camp in Glendale, Ariz.

Compared to some classic Guillen rants of the past, this wasn't as scorching, but Guillen made it clear that he doesn't care to keep hearing about Jenks' disappointment with the White Sox.

"The only thing I can say is that I feel bad for him because I think the way we treated this kid, just the White Sox, and myself, our front-office people, we helped him a lot on the field and off the field," Guillen said. "The only thing I can say is that he pitched well for me when he was with the White Sox. I hope that because of the problems we had off the field, it was not the reason he had a bad year."

In December, Jenks said it was going to be nice to go to Boston and play for a manager who knows how to run a bullpen.

"I'm very sad; I'm not even mad about it because I'm very sad about the way he thinks about us," Guillen said. "Am I going to say anything bad about him? I'm not going to waste my time. He's not part of my program."

Guillen, though, has never been one to hold his tongue for very long.

"I wish I was mad about it because I will rip his throat [out]," Guillen said. "That's sad because coming from him that surprises me. Everybody in this organization do a lot of great things for him. Did he pitch good for us? Yes, very, very good. But in the meanwhile just worry about setting up some games over there. Just worry about Boston, don't worry about the White Sox.

"Too bad that all the stuff we had between me and Kenny interrupted his career because he did a lot of bad things last year," Guillen added, referring to White Sox general manager Ken Williams. "We lied for him, we protected him. I'm the first manager in the history of baseball to give a guy a week off to take care of his kids when his father-in-law was sick. It was even his wife. But it was out of respect I have for his family. I sent him home because he had to babysit his kids because his father-in-law was sick. I don't think any manager is doing that."

Jenks was also quoted Friday saying Guillen's son Oney has "middle-child syndrome." Oney Guillen sent out a barrage of Twitter messages in December that were critical of Jenks shortly after he criticized the White Sox's manager.

"I just talked to Oney to make sure he lets that thing go," Guillen said. "But if Oney said everything he knows about Bobby Jenks, it wouldn't be a pretty thing. I said [to Oney] to make sure you don't say anything because he has a family. I respect his wife, I respect his kids."

Looking toward his cell phone, Guillen said it might be time to call Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

"I bet you Tito Francona won't put up with the [expletive] we put up with here," Guillen said. "We don't miss him. You ask 30 guys in there. By the way, I was asking for his phone number to talk him to about it and nobody had his phone number. None of his [former] teammates had his phone number. That's [telling].

"But me, that's fine. He wasn't talking about the ballclub, he was talking about Ozzie and Kenny. I respect that. Thank God he wasn't talking about the club. If Bobby was taking about the club ... I would have been everywhere on ESPN because I will rip his guts. But he was talking about me. I can take that."

Jenks struggled last season, posting a career-high 4.44 ERA. With his 2010 salary at $7.5 million, the White Sox elected to non-tender him rather than risk going to salary arbitration and potentially being required to pay him in the neighborhood of $9 million to $10 million. The Red Sox signed him to a two-year, $12 million deal.

"The Red Sox were the third or fourth team we talked to," Jenks said, according to the Tribune. "When we found out we were going to have an opportunity here, I didn't want to talk to anyone else. ... The White Sox did call, but by then it was too late. I don't know if they really wanted me or wanted to tell their fans they tried to keep me."

Jenks said he understands the White Sox's failure to re-sign him was at least in part driven by economic factors.

"There's always the business side to baseball," Jenks said to the Tribune. "But when you've been with a team for a long time, it's hard not to take things personally. I definitely took things personally. I still take them personally."

Jenks tossed his first simulated game of camp Saturday morning on the back field at City of Palms Park. He needed only two warmup pitches to get ready, and his first offering was taken deep off the center field fence by minor leaguer Brent Dlugach.

Jenks' next pitch drilled Dlugach square in the backside.

Francona and pitcher Clay Buchholz were watching the session and both were amused when Jenks hit Dlugach.

"That's part of it," Jenks said Saturday. "I'm not there for [the hitters] right now, they're here for us. If somebody gets in the way while I'm trying to work inside, that's just part of it.

"This is my first time seeing hitters, so one's going to get away. I'm glad it was down. I didn't miss up."

Jenks' 20-pitch session was under the watchful eye of Francona and pitching coach Curt Young.

"He's had four side [sessions] and the first day against hitters you don't expect [pitchers] to be so sharp, but it looks like his arm is moving good," Young said. "He's feeling healthy and his stuff will come."

Jenks will have the next two days off before he throws another simulated game, and if everything goes as planned he'll have another two days off before pitching in his first Grapefruit League game.

"I would rather ease into it right now," Jenks said. "I usually don't like getting into a game until I'm confident with my fastball. Right now I feel great, but the command isn't there, yet. A few more times off the mound should take care of that in about a week or so."

Despite dealing with health issues in 2010, Jenks says his arm feels the best it's felt in a while.

"I felt good," he said. "I felt strong. Legs are good, arm's good, everything felt great."

Dlugach's backside probably won't be feeling too good later on, but it's evident Jenks has a unique mound presence.

"He's a great guy and very personable and fun to talk to," Young said. "Not knowing him from the other side, he seems like a guy who would be unapproachable, but once you get to know him, he's a great guy."

Information from ESPNChicago's Doug Padilla and ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald and Gordon Edes was used in this report.