Major League Baseball
Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen says slick baseballs hard to control
Major League Baseball

Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen says slick baseballs hard to control

Updated Apr. 15, 2024 1:19 p.m. ET

Kenley Jansen is upset with the quality of baseballs.

"I got to get better, but also if you're playing in the cold weather, windy, and you get pearls balls out there that's not rubbed well, I don't know where the ball's going," the Boston Red Sox closder said after Sunday's 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels.

The 36-year-old right-hander entered with a two-run lead, hit Logan O'Hoppe leading off, then gave up a single, walk and Anthony Rendon's sacrifice fly before striking out Luis Rengifo and Mike Trout for his fourth save in four chances.

Jansen, a four-time All-Star, tied John Franco for fifth place with his 424th save.


"I don't hit guys, I don't walk people this much. And I start to get frustrated." Jansen said. "Any balls that came, I just throw it back 'til when I find a good ball. And it's just brutal."

Jansen said bullpen balls were better rubbed than game balls.

"It's embarrassing. It's been a while I've been playing in this league and, from the beginning of my career until now, it's getting worse," he said.

Jansen is in his 15th MLB season. He previously spent 12 years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, becoming the franchise's all-time saves leader, and 2022 with the Atlanta Braves before a bounce-back season in Boston last year.

"It's been an issue the whole year," he said. "I've been talking to a lot of my teammates and they feel the same way. First pitch, get out of my hand, I don't know where it's going. Second pitch, the same thing. Then, I tried to throw a ball down the middle, just keep going down. It's tough trying to make an adjustment and also you have the clock ticking."

Jansen's comments come amid a sport-wide discussion about a rash of major elbow injuries to high-profile pitchers, including Braves ace Spencer Strider, Cleveland Guardians ace Shane Bieber and 2023 AL Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole of the New York Yankees. Another veteran pitcher, Houston Astros star Justin Verlander, also brought up a change in the physical attributes of MLB's baseballs when asked recently after a rehab start about the uptick in injuries.

Jansen felt he got lucky when he faced Trout, that he threw a few balls out "and got some that are rubbed-up balls."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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