It’s perhaps the cliché of clichés in the sports realm, particularly when it comes to baseball, where so many players shuttle back and forth between the majors and the minors over the course of a season. But Wright genuinely seems excited to be in The Show, so much so that he’s totally OK with the Boston Red Sox’s decision to bump him from the rotation to the bullpen as part of their downsize from a six-man rotation to a traditional five-man unit.
“As long as I’m here, I’m happy,” Wright said before Sunday’s game against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park, according to the Boston Herald. “I know (former Red Sox outfielder and NESN analyst) Jim Rice said the other day, ‘As long as I’m on the plane and not a bus, I’m happy.’ But it honestly is that simple for me, because I know my role.”
Wright is no stranger to bouncing between the rotation and the bullpen. His versatility is part of what makes him so valuable to the Red Sox. The knuckleballer pitched well in four starts after replacing Justin Masterson in the rotation, though. It would have been understandable if he was disappointed by the news the Red Sox are sticking with Joe Kelly, who was in direct competition with Wright for the fifth and final spot in Boston’s rotation.
But instead, Wright, who’s about as laid-back as they come, remains focused on pitching well enough to stick on Boston’s roster in any capacity. He realizes a demotion to Triple-A Pawtucket isn’t out of the question if he falters at some point in the future.
“It’s like, you’ve got these guys that have earned the right in their spot. Me, I just want to hold it down as long as I can if it is my job to do that,” Wright said. “If I go in the ‘pen, hey, I’m still in the big leagues, man. What else do you want?”
Wright has a unique perspective on the situation because there was a time not too long ago when it looked like his days as a professional baseball player might be numbered. It wasn’t until Wright started using a knuckleball as his primary pitch while in the Cleveland Indians organization in 2011 that a sustained major league career seemed like an attainable goal. As such, the 30-year-old, who debuted in the bigs with Boston in 2013, has a deep appreciation for simply pitching at baseball’s highest level.
“That’s what I tell guys. I’m in the big leagues. I don’t care. Five, six years from now, maybe. Pick a role,” Wright said. “But dude, even then, it’s like, two years ago I was about to quit. I was getting ready to friggin’ hang it up, and next thing you know, I’m pitching at Fenway Park.
“Why would I even think about trying to seclude myself or even say, ‘I want to be a starter’ or ‘I want to be a reliever?’ When you’re in the big leagues, man, it doesn’t really matter, at least to me.”
Wright likely will start again at some point this season, for one reason or another, and the Red Sox can be confident in his ability to do so. But even if he doesn’t, don’t expect him to kick up a fuss.
Wright is a major leaguer right now. And that’s enough to make him happy.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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