Why Didn’t Steven Wright Pitch In All-Star Game? Red Sox Knuckleballer Explains

The Boston Red Sox’s All-Star representatives were in the thick of the action Tuesday night — at the plate, anyway.

The 2016 Midsummer Classic featured all four of Boston’s position players — David Ortiz, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. — starting and reaching base, with Ortiz even receiving a standing ovation from the San Diego crowd when he departed in the third inning.

But Steven Wright didn’t enjoy the same honor, as the Red Sox pitcher failed to make an appearance in his first career All-Star Game. So why didn’t Wright have a chance to show his stuff? After the game, the knuckleballer relayed the explanation he was given by American League manager Ned Yost.

“Because this game means so much, they wanted to make sure that if we went extra innings, we didn’t run out of pitching,” Wright said, via Sporting News. “So, instead of having me go early, they wanted me to hold off and kind of be the insurance guy.

“I mean, I was totally cool with that. I like the fact that he told me that was going to be my role, and he honored that. I respect the heck out of that.”

It’s nice of Wright to take the high road, and it’s common practice for each All-Star club to keep starters in its bullpen to prevent debacles like the 2002 All-Star Game. But it still must have been frustrating for the right-hander to sit out in his first All-Star appearance despite owning the AL’s lowest ERA (2.68).

Another potential reason for holding out Wright is to prevent embarrassing an AL catcher, as the veteran’s knuckleball is extremely difficult to catch and could result in plenty of passed balls. The AL squad had a man ready in Oakland Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt, but the battery didn’t need to be activated in the AL’s 4-2 win.

“We played catch (Monday), and he’s good,” Wright said of Vogt. “He did a good job. So maybe next year.”

Thumbnail photo via Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports Images

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