Former Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield is now mentoring Steven Wright on the ways of the knuckleball.
There are many adjectives that could be used to describe Tim Wakefield: All-Star pitcher, two-time World Series Champion, Roberto Clemente Award winner. However, there is only one that is forever engrained in the minds of Red Sox fans who watched him pitch for nearly two decades: knuckleballer.
Wakefield’s knuckleball is like Schilling’s bloody sock, Fisk’s homerun, Clemens’ 20 strike-out game, Dwight Evan’s catch and Dave Robert’s steal: iconic.
Now, five years after his retirement, Tim Wakefield is working to make sure that the next generation of Red Sox fans experience the thrill of witnessing a knuckleball first-hand.Earlier this year, he expressed a desire to become a pitching coach, and now it seems as if he is turning that want into a reality.
As reported by MLB.com, Wakefield is now serving as a mentor to young Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright, and has even scheduled trips to Red Sox training camp to coincide with games Wright is on the mound, making it the perfect opportunity for Wakefield to get his feet wet in the world of coaching.
According to multiple reports, Wakefield has been helping Wright “[zone] in on his release point and hand placement,” and advising him to “keep his lower body back on the rubber and follow through with more balance when releasing the ball.”
"“It’s just like a hitter, keep your weight back,”Wakefield told The Boston Globe. “Steven was keeping his arm where he needed to. He looked good.”"
The chance to learn from Wakefield is a great opportunity for Wright to improve his technique and be a valuable asset to the Red Sox pitching staff.
"“The fact that he takes the time to come down means a lot. He’s been in baseball for 20 years and taking time away from his family is really humbling,” Wright said. “It makes me want to learn even more. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now. It’s small, minor adjustments, but it makes a huge impact.”"
Steven Wright made his Major League debut with the Red Sox in 2013, and finished the season with a 2-0 record in four games pitched. Last year, he pitched in 16 games, finished the season 5-4, with 52 strikeouts, a 4.09 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.294.
At present, it is up in the air as to whether or not Wright will be in the bullpen or a member of the starting rotation come Opening Day. However, Wright, despite the ambiguity of his future, is just focusing on what’s in front of him.
“Whatever the coaches think of me, the media thinks of me, the organization thinks of me, I have to pitch well on the day I pitch,” he said. “That’s all I can do. If I worry about what’s going to happen, I won’t pitch as well.”