- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Red Sox reliever Bobby Jenks was supposed to be a key component in Boston’s bullpen this season, but he couldn’t quite remain healthy enough and was limited to 19 appearances.
He was recently diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, which occurs when the main artery of the lung or one of its branches becomes blocked. Doctors found it while doing testing on Jenks’ back, which has been the cause of three separate trips to the disabled list this season, his first in Boston.
Jenks said that once the clot goes away he will have back surgery.
“That whole thing is I’ve got two little growths that are coming off my spine, like two little hooks that have caused damage to my ligament just so much over the years that it’s actually calcified the ligament and is now causing nerve damage going into the left side, like underneath my scapula,” he said. “That’s why we thought for so long that it was muscle but it was actually all the nerves that are being locked down from the calcified tendon.”
The pitcher added that it’s a simple procedure and he’s optimistic he’ll be ready for spring training next season.
"Obviously it’s very disappointing for me. I came here with a lot of expectations on myself and a lot of things that I wanted to do for myself and the team this year," Jenks said. "It’s just a lot of bad luck this year and one of those things I’ll have to put aside and as hard as it’s gonna be sitting there during the playoffs, but coming back next year and being the best I can be, and even stronger. Before all this happened I was working really hard up in the weight room, taking care of myself, trying to get back on the field, so I’m just gonna continue that process and work into next year."
Jenks has remained with the team but hasn’t been seen around the clubhouse until he met with the media Saturday morning.
“Very scary because with something like that it can be very serious,” Jenks said of the embolism. “I’m in great hands. All the doctors have been wonderful, been taking great care of me. It’s been a little bit of a relief as far as mentally-wise knowing that I’m in such good hands here.”
Jenks said he has no idea how or why the blockage got there.
“I’ve been through the absolute wringer and they don’t know where it came from,” he said. “There’s nothing that’s still in the veins. There’s nothing that’s hereditary so what we’re thinking right now is possibly that when I left Florida going into Salem to make my rehab start that next day I felt just really sick, felt very fatigued when I went on the field, felt all the symptoms that come along with those [blockages]. It’s not 100 percent sure that’s where it came from but that’s most likely when it happened.”
Jenks explained that the clot is small and is not life- or career-threatening. He’s scheduled to begin exercising next week and is hoping to get back on a regular routine. He’s currently taking blood thinners and will need the clot to go away before he has his back surgery.
“I actually think he’s doing pretty well,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “It’s been a hard season for him.”
9hTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com
12hTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com