Steven Wright enjoyed a breakout year in his second full season with the Red Sox, registering a 3.33 ERA and 3.77 FIP in 156.2 innings and 24 starts. The 32-year-old knuckleballer was consistently able to keep hitters off-balance and avoided giving up a lot of home runs, which was reflected in his solid 0.7 HR/9. While Wright was able to rack up 13 wins for the Red Sox, his strikeout numbers were unspectacular, posting just a 7.3 K/9. Additionally, Wright's 13 wins would have been more had a shoulder injury not forced him to miss all of September. Considering that he relies more on pitch movement, specifically on his knuckleball, than velocity, there is little reason to believe Wright should experience a sharp decline next season as he gets deeper into his 30s. He is likely the Red Sox's sixth starter to begin 2017 following the blockbuster trade to acquire Chris Sale in December.
Wright allowed two hits and one walk while striking out three over 4.1 scoreless innings Thursday against the Pirates. He threw 62 pitches. The Red Sox have to worry about David Price's elbow and Drew Pomeranz's triceps, but Wright's shoulder, the one that ended his 2016 season prematurely, has not been a problem. He remains as constant as ever and represents a stabilizing element in a rotation that faces some uncertainty. The knuckle-baller has yet to give up a run over 9.1 spring innings, allowing just four base-runners.
Wright allowed one walk and struck out one over three scoreless innings Saturday. He was used in relief Saturday, but there's been no decision to take him out of the rotation, especially given the uncertainty surrounding David Price (elbow). Wright remains on the same schedule as Rick Porcello, who started Saturday's game, so Wright piggy-backed on Porcello's start. Wright has five scoreless spring innings under his belt and hasn't allowed a hit yet.
Wright pitched two scoreless innings while making his Grapefruit League debut Monday against the Blue Jays, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. Wright was effective in his two innings, throwing 16 of his 21 pitches for strikes and working around a Brock Holt fielding error. The knuckleballer threw another 18 pitches on the side after coming out of the game. Wright, who mixed in a handful of fastballs and one curveball, said he was able to pitch without thinking about his shoulder or his mechanics. His priority going forward is to work on throwing high-quality knuckleballs for strikes, which means consistency with his release point. With his late start to game action, Wright can make another four spring starts and be ready to roll in the regular season Apr. 7 in Detroit.
Wright will make his spring debut Monday against the Blue Jays, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. The Red Sox have taken a glacial pace with their injured starters who ended the last season dealing with injury. Both Wright (shoulder) and Drew Pomeranz (elbwo) have yet to make an appearance this spring. After Monday's start, there will be three or four more starts during camp for Wright before his first turn in the regular-season rotation. That should be enough to get him up to six-to-seven innings.
Wright threw 37 pitches over two innings in live batting practice Wednesday and says he feels ready for games next week, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. There's still no timetable for when Wright will make his Grapefruit League debut, but it's likely to come within a week. The 2016 All-Star is competing for a back-end rotation spot -- along with Drew Pomeranz (elbow) and Eduardo Rodriguez -- despite posting a career-best 3.33 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 24 starts last season.