FORT MYERS, Fla. — The experiment the Red Sox are conducting with Steven Wright didn’t end when he was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket this morning. It just changed venues.
Wright, the 28-year-old knuckleballer, threw one final bullpen session with pitching coach Juan Nieves before reporting to the minor league camp. He is scheduled to make a start on Friday.
The Red Sox have made a serious commitment to Wright. He has a spot on the 40-man roster, probably a place in the rotation at Pawtucket and the guidance of Tim Wakefield, who came to camp earlier this month to work with Wright.
“As we mentioned to Steven on the way out, he’s in the right place. He’s in an organization that embraces the knuckleball [and] the knuckleball pitcher. Yet he’s still a work in progress,” John Farrell said.
As Wakefield showed for years, a knuckleball pitcher can he extremely helpful to a pitching staff.
“Yes, without a doubt,” Farrell said when asked if Wright could develop into a useful major leaguer.
Farrell said Wright is still working to repeat his delivery consistently and gain control of his confounding pitch. Wright showed in his last outing, on Sunday, that he could throw a curveball for strikes when behind in the count.
Wright throws a knuckleball 90 percent of the time but has worked on adding other pitches to give him another look when needed.
“That comes from the conversations with Wake, having a curveball he can flip in there for a strike in some fastball counts,” Farrell said.
It will be interesting to see how this works out. If Wright pitches well in Triple-A, he will be on the short list of starters the Sox will turn to when a need arise.