Red Sox

Steven Wright 'nervous' about return, wants to 'earn back' trust, respect

Steven Wright 'nervous' about return, wants to 'earn back' trust, respect

The Boston Red Sox are on the verge of getting back one of their key pitchers back to boost their rotation.

Steven Wright, a soon-to-be 35-year-old knuckleballer, was suspended for the first 80 games of the 2019 MLB season after violating the league's PED policy. With the Red Sox now 78 games into their season, Wright will be eligible to return to the squad following their Monday-night contest against the White Sox.

Before that, Wright took some time to comment on his return to the team and what his relationship with them will be like moving forward.

"It's always going to be a work in progress," to WEEI's Rob Bradford on the Bradfo Sho. "The respect is going to have to be earned back. The trust is going to have to be earned back."

And ahead of his return, Wright admitted that he was a little nervous.

"At the end of the day I'm nervous," Wright said to Bradford. "I've been looking forward to this day for a long time. I wouldn't say I'm scared but there are a lot of nerves because there is a lot more that comes into this than, 'I'm going back to the big leagues to pitch.' It's not that simple. It's not like I'm getting called up. I'm going back into a situation that I ruined for myself and so I have to go and try and make it better. The only way I can do that is go up there, do my best, hopefully, be successful and hopefully over time things can get back to as close to normal as they possibly can."

Wright clearly feels some guilt about the suspension, but it seems that he will be bringing the right attitude to the team. And while he may be a bit nervous about returning, he should have a chance to earn a role with the team quickly if he pitches well. 

So far this season, the Red Sox bullpen has had their share of issues and their fifth starters have struggled as well. Wright is an ideal spot starter and change-of-pace guy in the bullpen thanks to his excellent knuckleball. Dave Dombrowski has referenced him as a potential big addition that could help solidify the team's bullpen and, in particular, improve their long-relief options.

Last season, Wright had one of his best major league seasons to date, going 3-1 in 20 games (four starts) with a 2.68 ERA. During his rehab action in Pawtucket as he works back from the suspension, he has a 1.86 ERA in 9 2/3 innings pitched, so it appears that he is still throwing the ball well. If that continues, Wright could turn out to be a difference maker for the Sox' bullpen.

That said, Wright's return shouldn't preclude the Red Sox from looking at other ways to bolster their pitching staff. Wright's suspension will make him ineligible for the postseason. So, even if he does become a reliable weapon for the Sox, the team can only count on him for the rest of the regular season.

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Mike Yastrzemski matches his grandfather with a 3-HR game

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AP Images

Mike Yastrzemski matches his grandfather with a 3-HR game

Seventy games into his major league career, Mike Yastrzemski has matched his Hall of Fame grandfather in one category.

Three-homer games.

The younger Yaz went deep three times, including a go-ahead solo blast in the 11th inning, to lead the San Francisco Giants to a wild, 10-9 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night in Phoenix.

The Red Sox legend played 3,308 major league games and the only three-homer game of his career came in his 15th season, on May 19, 1976, at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

Here's a look at Mike Yaz's handiwork in a game where the teams combined to hit 12 homers, just the second time in major league history that's happened. 

A solo shot in the third...

A two-run homer in the seventh...

And what proved to be the winner in the 11th:

Mike Yastrzemski, 28, called up May 25, has 16 homers, 45 RBI (including four Friday night) and is hitting .272. The Giants (62-61) are 2 1/2 games out of the NL's second wild-card spot.

Drafted in the 36th round by the Red Sox in 2009 out of St. John's Prep in Danvers, Mass., Yastrzemski, a left-handed hitting outfielder like his grandfather (but a left-handed thrower), didn't sign, went to Vanderbilt and was drafted in the 14th round by the Orioles in 2013. After six years in the minors with Baltimore, he was traded to the Giants this past March.

Even before the third homer, the MLB Network noted that Mike Yaz was off to a better start in his first 261 plate appearances than grandpa, who hit .266 with 11 homers and 80 RBI as a Red Sox rookie in 1961. 

The Giants come to Fenway Park for a three-game series Sept. 17-19.

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Rick Porcello's Red Sox career is likely winding down, so let's salute what he has meant to the team

Rick Porcello's Red Sox career is likely winding down, so let's salute what he has meant to the team

BOSTON -- Let's just get this out of the way -- under no circumstances should the Red Sox make Rick Porcello a qualifying offer.

He'd be crazy not to sign the one-year, $18 million tender on the spot, in his own blood if he has to, and the team desperately needs to upgrade his spot in the rotation, since Chris Sale ($145 million), David Price ($96 million), Nathan Eovaldi ($51 million), and Eduardo Rodriguez (cheap) aren't going anywhere.

That leaves Porcello as the odd man out, and his performance certainly hasn't merited the extension a number of us believed he deserved before the season (raises hand). He entered his start vs. Friday night vs. the Orioles ranked 68th out of 69 qualified starters in ERA (5.67), and there's nothing misleading about that stat. He has pitched poorly.

We're not here to crush him, however. He has done plenty of that to himself, not to mention dugout flat screens. Instead, with his Red Sox career presumably winding to a close, let us salute his rocky, rollercoaster, and ultimately rewarding tenure.

The Red Sox acquired him in December of 2014 for Yoenis Cespedes and then signed him to a four-year, $82.5 million extension on the eve of the season. Porcello rewarded the faith of GM Ben Cherington by going 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA, which contributed to Cherington being relieved of his job that August.

In came Dave Dombrowski, who had shown no interest in extending Porcello with the Tigers. Whatever skepticism Dombrowski may have harbored, the right-hander dispelled it -- and made Cherington's decision look far more prescient -- by delivering one of the most unlikely Cy Young seasons in recent memory.

Porcello went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA, leading the AL in strikeout-to-walk ratio and claiming the trophy that no one saw coming.

He followed in 2017 with another cannonball into the toilet, leading the AL in losses (17) and tying a Red Sox record by allowing 38 home runs.

But still he persevered and in 2018 he not only won 17 games as a stable No. 3 starter, he also manned up in the postseason with a pair of pivotal relief outings. When the Red Sox hoisted the World Series trophy, they could point to Porcello as one of the leaders of not just the staff, but the entire clubhouse. Not bad for a guy who looked like a bust in year one, but now would love nothing more than to stay in Boston.

That brings us to Friday night. Porcello gutted out six innings of one-run ball against the Orioles. He wasn't overpowering (one swing and miss), but he kept the ball in the park for the first time in eight starts and survived some hard contact (six balls hit at least 90 mph) to keep the O's in check.

There's no sense in pretending Baltimore is a threat on any side of the ball, but the Orioles had hit Porcello hard in two prior starts, totaling nine runs in nine innings. In the course of beating them on Friday, he crossed the 2,000-inning threshold for his career, a meaningful milestone for a pitcher who considers reliability his calling card.

"Definitely very proud of that," Porcello said. "It's been a tough year, but this is kind of a night where I can look back and say 

I got 6,000 outs in the big leagues and not many people can say they did that. I'm very proud of that and a lot of people have helped me and supported me along the way to be able to get through it, to 2,000 innings. I'm just fortunate enough to be able to stay healthy and do it. It's a nice night and a little side note and a nice little accomplishment."

Manager Alex Cora saluted Porcello and noted the role he'll need to play if the Red Sox are to drag themselves back into contention.

"Two thousand innings at this level, you don't do that just being lucky," Cora said. "You've got to work, and you've got to grind. . . . He was good for us last year. He won a Cy Young before. So, he can put a streak of quality starts just like Chris and the rest of the guys and help us pull this off."

 

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