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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