Bobby Jenks talks about his painkiller addiction, near death experience



Bobby Jenks is best remembered as the rookie closer on the 2005 Chicago White Sox World Series championship team. Jenks has the third most saves in White Sox history, and was often clocked above 100 mph on his pitches. Bobby Jenks once registered 102 m.p.h. during a 2009 game at Safeco Field.

However, the life of Bobby Jenks off the field is an even more interesting and compelling story, as a CSN Chicago special reveals.


Debuting Saturday, February 15 at 8:00 PM CST, Comcast SportsNet’s Chuck Garfien hosts an exclusive one-on-one interview with former Jenks. It’s a very candid discussion, recorded at Soxfest last weekend, as Bobby Jenks describes his first back surgery operation which led to massive physical/mental complications, his addiction to painkillers, being on the mound during the last out of the ’05 series, the historic city celebration that ensued, and much more.

On September 14, 2011 it was announced that Jenks had been diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. He pitched in 19 games for Boston that season. On December 12, Jenks had another surgery, this time to remove two bone spurs from his back. However, Dr. Kirkham Wood, the head of Massachusetts General Hospital’s orthopedic bone unit, started to remove a third bone spur and didn’t finish it. The part Wood left in created a serrated edge that sliced Jenks’ back open in two places, causing him to leak spinal fluid and triggering an infection in his spine.

Jenks was forced to undergo emergency surgery on December 30, only two weeks after his first back procedure. Had he not done so when he did, the infection could have gone all the way to his brain and possibly killed him. Due to his muscles being “torn open,” as he put it, Jenks was bedridden for seven weeks. The Red Sox placed Jenks on the 60-day disabled list, and ruled him out for at least the first three months of the season and later released by the Red Sox.

Bobby Jenks from CSN Chicago’s “Inside Look with Bobby Jenks” on the surgical procedure on his back and the terrifying personal aftermath:

“I ended up opening myself up in two different spots in my spine and I was leaking spinal fluid very heavily for about a week after my surgery.  I didn’t realize it at the time until I went to sit down on the couch and it literally felt like one of my kids was behind me and dumped a glass of water down my back.  That’s how much fluid came out when my incision burst open.  It’s pretty nasty to think about, but my back was like a faucet was left on and fluid was just coming out. 

I went in to see a few friends, doctor friends who were over there in Arizona, and they immediately told me to go to the emergency room right now and they called ahead to Dr. Chris Young, who was the surgeon in Arizona.  I went in for emergency surgery that night. 


“I literally was close to death, not just scared to death, I was close.  After Dr. Young went in there and fixed the two incisions and cleaned up the mishaps that happened, I also had an injection in there that was very close to my brain stem.   It climbed all the way up to my spine.  I could’ve have literally gone to sleep and not woken up.”

Very scary stuff. You’ll want to set the DVR for this one. Jenks has been out of MLB since 2012 and on March 23, 2012, Bobby Jenks was arrested at 3:43 AM EST for DUI, property damage, and hit-and-run. Alcoholism has been been a demon that Bobby Jenks has had to face throughout his life. It was even part of the reason that the Anaheim Angels gave up on him and the White Sox were able to acquire him on the cheap.

Jenks has struggled with addiction to another drug:

JENKS on his addiction to painkillers:

“When I tried to stop (taking painkillers) at the time, I didn’t realize how dependent I had become on them.  I started taking them a little bit in my last year here with the Sox, then when I got to Boston, everything just kind of went downhill from there.  So I started taking them more to try and play more.  Then, after my first surgery, is when I started taking them more heavily.  Going into my second surgery, I just kind of, I didn’t put any thought into what I was doing was…I didn’t think it was a big deal at the time, we’ll leave it at that. 

“I had been doing it for a while.  I thought I was in control of it.  They (painkillers) will…they will fool you like no other.  They will make you think that you’re in control of everything.  When you try to put them away, that’s when you realize that you have no control at all and that’s where the realization came in, that I woke up and felt that I need them then.  I didn’t want them.  I needed them.”



Comcast SportsNet will also re-air Inside Look with Bobby Jenks on the following dates/times: Tue, Feb 18 at 12:30pm – Thu, Feb 20 at 9:30pm – Sat, Feb 22 at 5pm – Mon, Feb 24 at 4:30pm – Tue, Feb 25 at 9pm & Fri, Feb 28 at 11:30pm

Paul M. Banks owns The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An MBA and Fulbright scholar, he’s also a frequent analyst on news talk radio; with regular segments on ESPN,NBCCBS and Fox. A former NBC Chicago and Washington Times writer, he’s also been featured on the History Channel. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

Powered by

Speak Your Mind