After missing nearly the first six weeks of the regular season, Kenley Jansen was activated from the disabled list May 15 and has been his same dominant self. However, as strong as Jansen may be on the field, Wednesday night provided a scary reminder no one is invincible off of it.
With the Los Angeles Dodgers holding a two-run lead over the Colorado Rockies in the bottom of the ninth, Adam Liberatore took the mound for a second inning of relief. That immediately raised questions, which multiplied tenfold when Yimi Garcia and J.P. Howell, not Jansen warmed-up.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly refused to offer specifics during his postgame interview other than saying Jansen was unavailable. A team spokesman later said Jansen felt ill. With the Dodgers back home Thursday, Mattingly revealed his closer was sidelined by elevated blood pressure.
Jansen elaborated on the situation saying, “I didn’t feel well yesterday at all.” After complaining of lingering symptoms in the first inning, tests were conducted and it was then determined Jansen had high blood pressure.
The 27-year-old was administered intravenous fluids and deferred to doctors telling him he couldn’t pitch in that condition. “I wanted to go out there. And that’s why I was frustrated and didn’t want to talk at that time [after Wednesday’s loss],” Jansen said of not wanting to address the specific situation or his previous medical history.
After not pitching in more than a week, Jansen threw 16 pitches in the ninth inning of the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. He doesn’t believe that contributed to his condition, saying it wasn’t until the next morning he felt fatigued.
As for the rampant speculation that consumed Twitter after Mattingly’s postgame comments, it was easily avoided by Jansen. “I don’t do social media. I don’t pay attention to that stuff,” Jansen said while also adding he appreciated those who wished him well.
Ultimately Jansen believes the high altitude and travel his blood pressure to soar. He said the Dodgers won’t hold him out in future games at Coors Field, but added he’ll likely receive an IV each day they’re in Colorado as a precaution. Jansen previously experienced an irregular heartbeat during a 2012 trip to the Rocky Mountain State and underwent surgery that October.
Although the atrial fibrillation surgery was a success, Jansen remains susceptible to an irregular heartbeat should his blood pressure rise. Now medically cleared, he’s eager to pitch in Thursday’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Definitely,” Jansen said when asked if he was relieved to have been cleared on his bobblehead night. “Hopefully I can get in.” Jansen has converted on all five save opportunities this season, totaling 11 strikeouts and allowing just one baserunner in six appearances (six combined innings)
2015 Sports Spectacular — Chester Pitts