The dreary conditions barely registered for Steven Wright.
It had been a week since he was called up and he was itching to take the mound.
When he came out of the bullpen in the fourth inning, he was too pumped up by adrenaline to care about the persistent rain or, for that matter, the eight-run hole he inherited.
“I don’t think it really mattered, to be honest with you,” Wright said. “I think the adrenaline was pumping, so the weather wasn’t as much of a factor as I thought it was going to be.”
By no means was Wright’s major league debut in the Sox’s 13-0 rain-shortened loss to the Oakland Athletics ideal. In 3⅔ innings, he was knocked around for five runs on six hits, walked four, and threw 82 pitches.
But coming in at a point when the game seemed unsalvageable, he served an important purpose in his first appearance, eating innings and allowing the Sox to save a bullpen that had seen its share of work in recent days.
The effort Wright gave on a dreary night was a lift, said manager John Farrell. Since Sunday’s doubleheader, the Sox have used 11 pitchers out of the bullpen and they’ve thrown 12 innings. Wrapped in ice in front of his locker after the game, several of the relievers, including Clayton Mortensen, came up to pat him on the back.
“That was my job to come in and eat up some innings for the bullpen,” Wright said. “They got worked the past couple days with the doubleheader, so I think for me to just come in and give them a rest, I think it’s going to help them win the series tomorrow.”
He gave up four runs in the fifth inning, struggling to settle in on a wet mound. At times, the slippery conditions made it hard for the knuckleballer to find his grip.
“I was kind of slipping a little bit, my front foot, so I was leaving the ball up,” Wright said. “I probably should have made the adjustment a little quicker to keep it down. I was getting good side-to-side movement, but I wasn’t able to get that drop that I was able to get later in the game.”
An umpire asked him if he wanted to fix the mound, but he was too amped up to be bothered.
“My adrenaline was going, I just wasn’t thinking too clearly,” he said. “I should’ve stopped it to get some Turface [infield conditioner] on there. There’s not much you can do. Just try to get through it.”
Wright was called up when closer Joel Hanrahan was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring injury.
“I think because I had been here for like six, seven days, I was able to get the atmosphere and kind of settle in,” Wright said. “It was a little bit of a factor, but I don’t think it was much. I was just kind of overthrowing a little bit.”
Still, he hadn’t seen game action since April 9, when he threw six innings for the Pawtucket Red Sox against Lehigh Valley. The wait between outings was long, but he said he wasn’t affected by it.
“It wasn’t too bad I think because of the adrenaline,” Wright said. “I felt like, having taken as much time off as I had, I felt all right, I just didn’t get the results that I would’ve liked.”
It didn’t take as much time for the organization to option him back to Pawtucket. Daniel Bard will be recalled from Double A Portland.
“It was just a matter of time,’’ Wright said. “I was an emergency guy, and I was able to eat up some innings today and hopefully I get a chance to come back.”
Between the harsh weather conditions and the deep ditch the Sox were in, Farrell acknowledged the tough circumstances Wright faced in his debut.
“Tonight’s kind of a hard night to judge a guy in his first outing given the conditions and given the fact that he’s been off about nine days since his last game,” Farrell said.
“So unfortunately for him, and the need for us to replenish our bullpen, he gets optioned out.
“But this is a guy that we feel has got starting capability at the big leagues and yet he’s still in the development path. So he’ll continue to do that at Pawtucket.”