Steven Wright Putting Himself On Red Sox’s 2015 Map With 2014 Success


Sep 14, 2014

Steve WrightAs the Boston Red Sox evaluate pitchers who could be part of their 2015 staff, one name consistently flies under the radar — at least from an outside perspective.

Not anymore. Steven Wright has put himself on the map.

Wright, who turned in another excellent relief performance Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium, quickly is becoming far more than an afterthought. The 30-year-old knuckleballer has been very effective at both Triple-A and the major league level this season, making it reasonable to believe he has a future in Boston, even if his exact role remains undefined.

“I just want to be on the team. That’s what my ultimate goal is — to be in the major leagues,” Wright told reporters in Kansas City after Saturday’s game. “I want to do whatever I can to do to make it a hard decision for them. And then whatever the situation is, I can’t control where they send me. All I can do is make sure I’m prepared when I go out there and be as effective as I can. I definitely don’t try to think about it. Whatever happens, happens.”

Wright tossed three shutout innings Saturday after starter Rubby De La Rosa lasted only four frames. He allowed three hits — all singles — and struck out two without walking anyone. Wright was charged with a wild pitch in the seventh inning after a knuckleball off the plate deflected off catcher Christian Vazquez’s glove, but the right-hander struck out Nori Aoki to escape a second-and-third jam.

It was only the third major league appearance for Wright this season, and none of the outings have required high-stress pitches. He entered in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros on Aug. 17 with the Red Sox trailing 7-1, and he entered in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 7 with Boston down 3-0. Wright was summoned from the bullpen Saturday with the Sox trailing 5-1 in the fifth inning.

Regardless of the situation, however, Wright has thrived this season. He has allowed only one run on nine hits and one walk over 12 innings in his three appearances with the Red Sox, clearly taking advantage of his minimal opportunities. Wright’s big league success is a continuation of what he started at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he went 5-5 with a 3.41 ERA in 15 starts this season.

“I definitely feel more comfortable than I was last year,” said Wright, who went 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA in 24 starts with Pawtucket in 2013. “I still have a lot to learn with (the knuckleball), but what I’ve done this year compared to what I’ve done last year, I think I’m definitely going in the right direction.”

The Red Sox have a surplus of young starting pitchers — De La Rosa, Brandon Workman, Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster and Matt Barnes — looking to make names for themselves down the stretch in the hopes of securing a major league roster spot for 2015. Wright is an underdog for a variety of reasons, including the minor league option he’ll have remaining next season.

But everyone loves a good underdog, especially one who comes out of nowhere and floats a knuckler.

Photo via David Butler II/USA Today Sports

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