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Jenks hopes to return in spring

He talks about injuries that ruined his season

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / September 18, 2011

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It was not the type of season Bobby Jenks envisioned for himself in his first year with the Red Sox.

When Jenks left the White Sox to sign a two-year $12 million deal with Boston last December, there was every expectation the former closer would have to adapt to a new role, with Daniel Bard established as the setup man here and Jonathan Papelbon as closer.

But Jenks never figured his year would be such a disappointment and end prematurely because of myriad health issues, the most serious of which was a pulmonary embolism diagnosed when he underwent tests for season-ending back surgery.

“Very scary,’’ Jenks said yesterday, speaking to reporters for the first time since the diagnosis. “With something like that, it can be very serious, obviously. But here I’m in great hands and all the doctors have been just wonderful and been taking great care of me.’’

A pulmonary embolism is an obstruction of a blood vessel in the lungs, usually due to a blood clot. It is a fairly common condition but can be fatal.

According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 600,000 Americans develop pulmonary embolisms annually, with 60,000 cases resulting in death.

Jenks said in his case it was uncertain how the blood clot developed.

“Every test I’ve been through this last two weeks - and I mean I’ve been through the wringer - they don’t know where it came from,’’ Jenks said. “There’s nothing that’s still in the veins, there’s nothing that’s hereditary.’’

Jenks speculated that it may have developed when he left Fort Myers, Fla., to head to Salem, Va., for a rehab assignment and became ill.

“The next day, I felt very sick and very fatigued when I was on the field,’’ he said. “I felt all the symptoms that come along with this. It’s not 100 percent sure where it came from, but that’s most likely when it happened.’’

Jenks is receiving blood-thining medication for the embolism, which has put on hold the spine surgery he intended to have.

Jenks said once the embolism is cleared up and he is able to undergo spine surgery, he will be able to get back to pitching again. Hopefully, he said, in time for spring training.

“As far as the recovery, the doctors are talking about weeks and not months,’’ Jenks said.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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