Sunday, February 17, 2013
Wakefield to work with Wright
By Joe McDonald
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox minor league knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright says he’s anxious to work with former Red Sox knuckler Tim Wakefield.
Wakefield is scheduled to watch Wright pitch sometime next week.
“It’s nice to get another view, and what he did to make himself successful, and for him to pass it along to me, I’ll try to take as much as I can and implement it into my routine,” Wright said after throwing a live batting practice session on Sunday.
The Red Sox acquired the 28-year-old pitcher from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for first baseman Lars Anderson at the July 31 trade deadline last summer. Wright began his Red Sox career with Double-A Portland and finished the season with Triple-A Pawtucket.
Since age 9, Wright has messed around throwing the vintage pitch. When he began his pro career in 2007, he was a conventional pitcher in the Cleveland organization. It was known he could dabble with the knuckleball, so in 2010 he was asked to start throwing it more consistently.
“It took a lot of pride for me to do that,” Wright said. “I know at first, in 2010 when I first started throwing it, I told them I wasn’t going to be a knuckleballer, I’ll throw it as an out-pitch.”
In 2011, the Indians asked Tom Candiotti to work with Wright.
"He told me, ‘You should throw this all the time.’ I was like, ‘I don’t know. I throw low to mid-90s.’ He said, ‘Hey, everyone throws in the low 90s.’ I started thinking about it, I did it all year and threw 85-percent knuckleballs and I didn’t like it. I hated it. It was depressing because I felt like I went from competing to knowing I’m out there throwing batting practice.”
Wright later played winter ball in Panama and decided to convert back to a fastball pitcher and use the knuckleball as his out-pitch.
In spring training of last season, he finally became comfortable with the pitch and now considers himself a full-time knuckleball pitcher.
“Now I feel like I can compete. I still feel like I can be aggressive with the knuckleball,” he said.
Red Sox shortstop prospect Deven Marrero, participating in his first big-league camp, faced Wright during his BP session on Sunday.
“It was awesome. That was a lot of fun,” Marrero said with a laugh. “I was telling the catcher, ‘This is like a Wiffle Ball game.’ It was pretty cool. It was my first time facing a knuckleball. It was pretty fun just the way the ball moves. It’s different, man.
“It’s actually a quick knuckleball, it’s not a soft one. If it’s high, let it fly. If it’s low, let it go. I saw a couple up and took a couple of hacks. It was pretty fun,” he said.
Wright has already worked with Candiotti and fellow knuckleball legend Charlie Hough. While Wright has spoken with Wakefield in the past, the two have yet to work together. That will change next week.