Following a successful bullpen session on Saturday, Steven Wright said he believes he will be ready to start the season in the Boston Red Sox rotation.
The back end of the starting rotation remains uncertain for the Boston Red Sox with several candidates working their way back from injury. The last spot may come down to which of their options is healthy. It’s too soon to declare who that will be but Steven Wright believes he will be ready.
Wright threw a three-inning live batting practice session Saturday morning at JetBlue Park. According to the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, manager Alex Cora thought Wright looked great. He passed the eye test and could be ready to pitch in a minor league game.
This was Wright’s second live batting session this week. While he worked mostly on mechanics last time, he took a step forward by showing improved action on his knuckleball. That progress is a promising indication that Wright is getting closer to a return.
The knuckleball pitcher certainly seemed confident about his progress. He told reporters following today’s session that if he continues on this track then there’s a definite possibility he’ll break camp with the big league team in the starting rotation.
The Red Sox have at least three locks to start the season in the rotation – Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello. We would include Drew Pomeranz on that list, except a forearm strain has held him back this spring. He’s not far behind but there’s a chance he could miss his first start or two.
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Eduardo Rodriguez warrants strong consideration for a spot in the rotation but his status for Opening Day also remains up in the air. E-Rod likely has the edge over Wright if both are deemed ready in time. If Pomeranz isn’t ready yet then it’s possible both Rodriguez and Wright start in the rotation.
Brian Johnson appears to be the front-runner for a spot start if only one of those three pitchers are healthy for the first turn through the rotation. If all three need more time then the Red Sox may need to dig deeper into their starting pitcher depth to call on Hector Velazquez.
Wright may find a home in the bullpen if he doesn’t earn a rotation spot. He’s out of minor league options so they need to find a role for him in Boston. Otherwise, they risk exposing him to waivers. Cora confirmed he is comfortable using Wright in relief. He’s capable of tossing multiple innings and his knuckleball gives opposing lineups a different look.
There are still a few more hurdles for Wright to pass before we can lock him in to a roster spot. The takeaway is that he’s making progress and his return to the team is inching closer.