Jenks, who had been placed on the disabled list on May 5 because of right biceps tendinitis, worked in a pair of games for Pawtucket last weekend and pronounced himself ready to pitch in for Boston, hoping to thrive in his setup role now that he is healthy.
Jenks made his return against his former team, the Chicago White Sox, bringing back into the open the angry give-and-take war of words he had with White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen this past spring after signing with Boston as a free agent.
"I'm back at 100 percent. My arm is feeling great," said Jenks before allowing two hits but no runs in the eighth inning of Boston's 10-7 loss to Chicago on Tuesday. "I was throwing the ball well [in Pawtucket] and was commanding all my pitches. I'm just happy to be healthy and able to go out there and earn my paycheck."
Jenks, who signed a two-year, $12-million deal with the Red Sox, hardly was earning his salary before going on the disabled list. He was 1-2 with an ugly 9.35 ERA. It turned out that Jenks was hurt more than he was letting on.
"It was close to a major tear. For a solid two-plus weeks I was feeling it. Unfortunately we didn't catch it in time. I was stubborn and tried to pitch through it and didn't tell anybody about it," said Jenks.
So Jenks was in the bullpen Tuesday night and manager Terry Francona said before the loss that he wouldn't hesitate to use Jenks in his usual role, though a luxury of easing him back into the flow with a big lead appealed to the skipper.
In getting in the game Tuesday night, Jenks pitched against the only other major league organization he has known. In five years with the White Sox, Jenks saved 173 games. Overall, he was 14-18 with a 3.40 ERA.
It doesn't matter, said Jenks, that he had been activated in time to face Chicago, even though he and Guillen have traded pointed barbs.
"If it was any team I would have the same mentality coming off the DL. I'm not going against Ozzie. I'm going against the Chicago White Sox," said Jenks before the game. "That [the public sniping] is water under the bridge. I'm here with the Red Sox. As much as I enjoyed the time in Chicago, my thoughts are here. Sure I regret it [the spat]. I spent a lot of time there, did some great things. It's going to be weird [facing former friends on the White Sox], but once the game starts, it's just business."
Steven Krasner is a regular contributor to ESPNBoston.com.