Knuckler Gets Wright Attention In Boston
BOSTON—After righthander Steven Wright was drafted in the second round by the Indians in 2006, he never had a chance to make a meaningful impression on farm director John Farrell. He had mono and never pitched that summer, and Farrell left after the season to become pitching coach of the Red Sox.
Almost seven years later, Wright has been reunited with Farrell. After becoming a knuckleballer in 2011, Wright—thanks in part to a spring training session with Charlie Hough in 2012—made huge strides with the pitch last year, to the point where the Sox acquired him in a trade for first baseman Lars Anderson at the trade deadline.
In 25 starts in Double-A and Triple-A last season, Wright went 10-7, 2.54 along with 7.6 strikeouts and 4.4 walks per nine innings. His command improved over the course of the year, as he had just 2.3 walks per nine innings in 10 starts in the Sox system and the Dominican League.
The performance was strong enough to earn the 28-year-old a spot on the 40-man roster and a place in the team's rookie development program. More than six years after his initial introduction to Farrell, he has made an impression that suggests a potential big league role in 2013.
"He's a guy that's starting to really gain a lot of notoriety within the organization," Farrell said. "In a manner of about a two- or three-year period, he's gotten a very good feel for the pitch . . . He's certainly one of our depth starters now. He's certainly going to be an interesting guy over time."
For Wright, who has spent most of the last five years in Double-A, such suggestions validate his excitement about coming to the Red Sox. As a practitioner of an unusual craft, he's on a long-anticipated upward trajectory.
"When I got traded," Wright said, "it was like, 'Wow.' People are watching. People are appreciating the knuckleball, and what better organization to appreciate it than the Red Sox?"
• Longtime bullpen and catching coach Gary Tuck, considered one of the best catching instructors in the history of the game, decided to retire in late January.
• Outfielder Ryan Kalish required surgery on a torn labrum in his right (non-throwing) shoulder and is expected to be out approximately five months.