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Red Sox Notebook

Jenks has a long way to go

Reliever unlikely to pitch in spring

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / February 21, 2012
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Chicago White Sox released Bobby Jenks after the 2010 season, deciding his many physical issues and frequent disputes with manager Ozzie Guillen outweighed his merits as a closer.

Former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein provided a money-stuffed pillow for Jenks to land on, giving him a two-year contract worth $12 million.

Of the many free agent mistakes Epstein made, Jenks may prove one of the worst.

According to manager Bobby Valentine, Jenks is not likely to pitch in spring training and if he does return, it would not be until the middle of the season.

“Bobby said he’d like to take one week at a time,’’ Valentine said. “That means he’s a long way about thinking baseball activities. He’s really had a terrible offseason health-wise. He’s a real back-burner guy. I don’t think we’ll see him in baseball activities for quite a while if at all this spring.’’

Jenks made 19 appearances last season and had three stints on the disabled list, once for a biceps strain and twice for a back injury.

He did not appear in a game after July 7 and was terrible when he did pitch, posting a 6.32 ERA and a 2.23 WHIP.

He was found to have a pulmonary embolism late in the season, which required medication to dissolve. He then had two surgeries on his back to correct a spinal issue.

Two pitchers slowed

Righthander Ross Ohlendorf, who was signed to a minor league deal last week, is on a rehab program because of a shoulder injury. Aaron Cook also may be held back for the same reason, although he did throw 35 pitches in the bullpen yesterday.

“Aaron Cook has had shoulder issues in the past where he’s come back too soon,’’ Valentine said. “He’s done the step-forward and two-step-back thing and we’re trying to prevent that from happening again. We’re trying to get him to cruise on through. He’s not hurt, just trying to learn from the past.’’

Righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka and lefthander Rich Hill, who are coming back from Tommy John surgery, will not appear in any games this spring, as was expected. They could start minor league rehab assignments in May or June.

Last call?

Valentine said he has reached a decision on whether there will be alcohol in the clubhouse, but wouldn’t share it with the media until he tells the players.

One new rule he did reveal was that players would not be allowed to drive themselves to road games in spring training. Everybody will take the bus.

Knuckling under

With Tim Wakefield retiring, R.A. Dickey of the Mets is the only knuckleballer left in the majors.

“I sent him a message. I said, ‘I don’t know whether to congratulate you or be sad,’ ’’ Dickey told reporters in Port St. Lucie. “That’s really how I felt. I’m sure he’s torn, obviously. I had a feeling that if it wasn’t going to be with Boston, that he was going to hang it up.

“I felt like that would be the way that it would end up. I’m sad because I want him around. It’s fun to be able to watch somebody who does what you do.’’

Two additional games

Valentine has scheduled B games against the Twins March 1 and against the Pirates March 7. The extra games, which are not officially on the schedule, are designed to give every starting candidate a chance to get enough innings in . . . Valentine wanted to play nine innings against Northeastern and Boston College March 3, but the college teams are concerned about their pitching depth. The Sox might loan some pitchers to the Huskies and Eagles for the extra innings . . . Kevin Youkilis on the division: “The AL East is probably the best division in baseball. It’s time for us to prove it this year by winning a World Series and hopefully it’s us winning that World Series. Every year it gets tough.’’ . . . Outfielder Ryan Sweeney turned 27 yesterday . . . Carl Crawford played catch on one of the practice fields and then met Valentine, who gave him a high-five as part of a lengthy conversation. When Crawford jogged off, Valentine turned to a crowd of fans watching and said, “That’s Carl Crawford. People said he wouldn’t be in the Opening Day lineup and he’s here early. That’s Carl Crawford!’’ The fans laughed.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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