Braves rookie Tyrell Jenkins got a scare when his fingers tingled and his forearm went numb after an eighth-inning pitch Friday night, but a day later he felt fine and there seemed to little if any concern about his health.
“Woke up this morning and had all my feeling back,” Jenkins said. “That’s it. If I had to pitch today, I could.”
Braves interim manager Brian Snitker had no intention of using Jenkins in the final two games of the season Saturday and Sunday, but said the right-hander might play catch before Sunday’s game just for his own peace of mind before leaving town for the offseason. He was to be examined again to rule out anything signficant.
Jenkins, 24, appeared to slump a bit and dangled his arm to his side as he walked behind the mound following a first-pitch ball to Miguel Cabrera, the fourth batter he faced in his relief appearance.
“Just a nerve, kind of like a zing (in his fingers), and my forearm went a little numb,” he said. “Scared the hell out of me, so I didn’t know what to do. Luckily ‘Flow’ saw it; I wasn’t going to come out.”
He told catcher Tyler Flowers that he didn’t want to say anything, but the veteran Flowers said that would be a mistake and they motioned to the dugout.
After being checked out briefly on the field by trainer Jim Lovell, Jenkins walked off and went straight to the trainer’s room, where he was examined. The preliminary diagnosis Friday night was ulnar neuritis, an irritation of the ulnar nerve. By Saturday, however, Jenkins said his arm and hand felt normal.
Sitting at his locker stall, listening to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” playing on his phone, Jenkins appeared as relieved Saturday as he had appeared concerned in the clubhouse Friday. But actually, not long after he left the ballpark Friday he felt better about things.
“Played video games last night, everything was fine,” he said, smiling.
Jenkins, called to the majors for the first time in late June, finishes the season with a 2-4 record and 5.88 ERA in 14 games, including a 2-3 record and 6.30 ERA in eight starts. He gave up 11 home runs in 52 innings, but the bigger issue was his strikeouts-to-walks ratio — 33 walks and 26 strikeouts.
“Ups and downs, had some success, plenty to work on,” said the amiable pitcher, a former Baylor football recruit who came to the Braves from the Cardinals along with Shelby Miller in the November 2014 trade that sent Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden to St. Louis.
“Just looking to get an opportunity (in 2017). I know I need to work on (reducing) walks, tightening up secondary pitches. But the biggest thing is, I know I can pitch here,” he said. “So, going into the offseason, I know that it’s not that I have to prepare to get there, but prepare to stay there. It’s going to be a good offseason. I’m excited. I appreciate the opportunity I got this year and I think it’ll help me next year and things will be lot more smooth.”
Snitker said, “I always admired the kid because he just never quits pitching. He competes as good as anybody. He’s a young kid who’s got to work on his command, location of his fastball — he’s not unlike a lot of pitchers his age. This has been a great experience for him, just trying to get a better feel.”
Asked whether Jenkins had the ingredients to be a good major league pitcher, Snitker said, “Absolutely.”