Hobbled Jenks plays long toss in OF

It's unclear how long back troubles will sideline closer Bobby Jenks. Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire

BALTIMORE -- Closer Bobby Jenks, who has been dealing with a tight back, played long toss in the outfield before Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles.

It remains unclear how long he will be sidelined by his back troubles, which manager Ozzie Guillen didn’t reveal until after Saturday’s game that was finished off by J.J. Putz. Guillen claimed Sunday that he had known about Jenks’ back for a few days.

“It was the first day we come to [Baltimore], we were taking batting practice,” Guillen said. “He was throwing long toss, and he came off and told [pitching coach Don] Cooper his back was a little stiff. Cooper sent him off to the training room to try to loosen him up for the past couple of days.”

Guillen reiterated Sunday that Jenks will have to prove himself in non-save situations before he returns to his closer role. It ended up working out as a positive for Guillen, who probably wanted Jenks to regain his form in lower profile situations but didn’t want all the drama that goes with announcing a temporary change of roles.

“I never take the job away from him because he blew a game,” Guillen said. “He blew the game in the World Series, and the next day he was my guy. I just worry about I see and what my pitching coach sees.

“I have faith in him to be my closer, and you look at [Matt] Thornton and Putz and the way they throw the ball all year long, I don’t worry about that. I know those guys are going to do their job.”

Guillen was asked if he explained to Jenks that he won’t be the closer immediately after he feels 100 percent.

“I don’t have to,” Guillen said. “When Bobby tells me ‘I’m healthy,’ Cooper and myself have a job to do to put him on the spot to see how he throws. And then we make a decision. I’m not the type of guy to say, ‘You ready?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘OK here it is.’ I don’t think that’s fair for a ballclub. To me, the team is first, that’s it.

“I’m going to give the team the best shot to win. I don’t say Bobby is not the best shot to win because I always say, if Bobby’s our closer this bullpen will be better. But if not, we’ll find a way to do it.”

Would it be the same way if the White Sox were 10 games out of first place instead of up 1 1/2 games?

“If we were 10 games out, (Daniel) Hudson’s sill here, (Chris) Sale would be pitching,” Guillen said. “But that is a different thing. To me, every time we take the field I expect to win, even in April and spring training. But now it’s a must-win game no matter what. We have people breathing down our necks, and we have to go the best we can, and I will put the best guys out there.”