Despite hamstring injury, Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen ‘going to try to avoid’ IL stint

Red Sox

“We’re in the most crucial parts [of the season], so I want to be out there.”

Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Kenley Jansen paces near the mound as a member of the training staff, not seen, comes to check on him during the ninth inning of the team's baseball game against the Houston Astros, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Houston.
Kenley Jansen only threw three pitches on Wednesday before leaving Boston’s game against Houston. (AP Photo/Kevin M. Cox)

The Red Sox bullpen took a major hit on Wednesday night in Houston.

In the ninth inning of Boston’s eventual 7-5 extra-innings victory over the Astros, Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen had to exit the game after throwing just three pitches.

Even though he recorded an out, the star reliever was in clear discomfort when Alex Cora and a trainer eventually met him on the mound and pulled him from the game.

Despite the injury, Jansen told’s Chris Smith on Thursday that he hopes to avoid a stint on the IL moving forward.

“No, no, no. Definitely. I’m going to try to avoid that,” Jansen told Smith. “We’re in the most crucial parts [of the season], so I want to be out there.” At the same time, I don’t want to hurt my team also.

“That’s why I think it was a smart decision [to exit Wednesday’s game]. … We’ll see how it feels in a couple days. They will probably tell me when is the best for me to be back out there.”

After Wednesday’s win, Cora offered up optimism that Jansen could be available for Friday’s series opener against the Dodgers at Fenway Park. 

“When I got into the game … it grabbed me again,” Jansen said of his injury. “It’s weird. It feels great right now but I’ve gotta just … give it a few days and see how I feel. They don’t think that it’s a big deal. Hopefully…take a few days [off] and try it again.”

The Red Sox can ill afford to lose Jansen for any significant amount of time as they try to make a late push for a spot in the AL Wild-Card standings.

Boston’s lone All-Star representative during the 2023 season, Jansen has solidified the back end of a Red Sox bullpen that has rarely coughed up late leads.

The Red Sox own MLB’s best record when leading after six innings (52-3), a stark improvement over their record under the same circumstances in 2022 (63-10, 18th in MLB).

After years of Boston struggling to find a proven closer following Craig Kimbrel’s departure in free agency back in 2019, Jansen has posted a 2.81 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in his 46 appearances with the Red Sox in 2023. Jansen’s 29 saves this season rank fourth overall in the American League.