Red Sox

Mullen on the Minors: Sea Dogs' Wright settling in after 'crazy' deadline deal

840311.jpg

Mullen on the Minors: Sea Dogs' Wright settling in after 'crazy' deadline deal

PAWTUCKET, R.I. This years trading deadline was unlike anything Steven Wright had experienced before.

After being taken by Cleveland in the second round of the 2006 draft out of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Wright had spent his career with the Indians until July 31. Just after the 4 p.m. trading deadline that day, though, it was announced that the Red Sox had acquired him, assigning him to Double-A Portland.

Wright was with Double-A Akron at Hadlock Field in Portland when he got the news.

It was nuts, Wright said. Because I was throwing my bullpen with Akron in Portland and then right when I got done Tony Arnold, our pitching coach, got a call. I saw his phone and it said Chris Tremie, which is our manager. And he talked to him for a couple of minutes and then told me I had to go to see the manager. He wouldnt let me do anything. I was supposed to run and condition and all that. He said, No, you cant. You got to go see him. So I walked in and he told me I got traded to Boston.

I talked to Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett and he told me they were sending me to Portland. So I packed my stuff up and walked across to their clubhouse. It was crazy because we still had to play the game that night. So I was sitting in the stands, charting for Portland against Akron. It was fun but it didnt hit me until Akron got on the bus and went to another city.

Then we went back to Akron the next week and I was in the other clubhouse. That was weird. I was still going through the same entrance that I always went through but just kept walking to the other clubhouse. I stayed in my apartment. So it was kind of crazy.

But now, Wright figures hes in the right organization for a knuckleball pitcher, a place where he could continue the legacy left after Tim Wakefields retirement. Although hes only been a full-time knuckleball pitcher for just two seasons, its a pitch hes been throwing since he was a kid.

I started throwing it when I was nine, he said. Frank Pastore, my old pitching coach, threw one back to me and I was just kind of intrigued with it, and I was watching Wakefield on TV. In 2010 I was struggling a little bit. I started in Triple-A, got sent back down to Double-A, and I needed an outpitch. And one day I jumped up on the mound, messing around, not even thinking anything of it, and just having fun. The coaches saw it, and were like you might want to start throwing that as an outpitch. So thats kind of where it started. I went into 2011, the same thing: fastball, slider, with my knuckleball as my outpitch. I had a good spring, they brought in former knuckleball pitcher Tom Candiotti to work with me.

He also had a chance to talk with Wakefield earlier this season. Former Red Sox coach Rob Leary, now the Indians minor league field coordinator, arranged a brief phone call between the two knuckleball pitchers.

After one start with Portland, Wright, who turns 28 on Aug. 30, was promoted on Aug. 8 to Triple-A Pawtucket, where Rich Sauveur, a former left-handed knuckleballer, is his pitching coach.

His is better than mine, Sauveur said. Even though mine was my main pitch, too. But Ill concede.

Wright has made just one start for the PawSox, going five innings, allowing two runs on five hits and walk with three strikeouts Aug. 11 at Rochester. He was placed on the seven-day disabled list on Aug.16 with right shoulder tightness, but is expected to be activated to start Friday at Charlotte.

He did a great job the first night, Sauveur said. Throws it somewhere between R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield velocity-wise. But its a good knuckleball, something to look for, because I think hes got some room to grow. Hes 27 but its pretty good stuff.

He gave up a couple runs early the other night and then he threw some zeros up, said Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler. He did a nice job. He throws strikes with it and guys swing at it. Typical knuckleball outing: five inns, deep counts, some crazy swings, a few hard hit balls when you get behind.

Sauveur has worked with other knuckleball pitchers in the organization, including Charlie Zink, when he was the International League pitcher of the year in 2008. Sauveur said Wrights knuckleball is better than Zinks.

Charlie had a decent knuckleball when he was here, Sauveur said. But looking at Wrights, its got a lot of movement. Im not saying hes a Tim Wakefield but you never know. And I can tell you hes got a chance.

A chance to help the big league team, Sauveur means.

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

astros_yankees_102117.jpg

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

HOUSTON - Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest, too, before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

Red Sox reportedly make offer to Cora

UPDATE: The deal is for three years, per Ken Rosenthal.

BOSTON — We’re just waiting on an announcement now.

A pair of national reports on Saturday afternoon, one from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal... 

...And another from MLB Network and FanRagSports.com's Jon Heyman...

have firmed up Alex Cora’s expected hiring as Red Sox manager. Both reported that Cora, the Astros bench coach, is expected to take the job once Houston's season ends, which could come as soon as Saturday night after Game 7 of the American League Championship Series. 

Heyman reported a contract offer has already been made to Cora. 

A baseball source said this week that there was “not a doubt” Cora, the Astros bench coach, would wind up with the Red Sox gig. It’s unclear when exactly the offer was made to him, but one had not been made as of midday Wednesday, the source said. 

Cora, 41, a former Red Sox infielder (2005-08) who's also worked in the media and is the most sought-after managerial candidate at the moment, appeared the front-runner since the outset of what proved a small search for the Red Sox.

Earlier, Boston Globe reported that the Washington Nationals were interested in Cora after they fired Dusty Baker on Friday.