Update, 2:03 PM EDT: According to an official announcement, Wright will be replaced by Heath Hembree for the remainder of the ALDS.
Red Sox reliever Steen Wright is expected to be removed from the club’s ALDS roster, per Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston. The right-hander experienced a bout of knee pain prior to the start of Friday’s game and was held back so he could undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury. While a formal diagnosis has not yet been revealed, he’ll sit out of the remainder of the Division Series and will not be eligible to pitch should the Red Sox advance to the ALCS.
Wright, 34, was laid up with chronic inflammation in his left knee during the bulk of the 2018 season. He missed 10 weeks on the disabled list and was activated on September 1, after which he pitched to a solid 0.66 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 through 13 2/3 innings. The inflammation was likely an offshoot of the cartilage restoration surgery he underwent in May 2017, and this appears to be a similar recurrence. Per Drellich, Wright will visit a knee specialist in New York, at which point he’ll likely receive a more concrete timetable for his return to the team.
A replacement for Wright has not yet been announced, though Drellich speculates that rookie left-hander Bobby Poyner or right-hander Heath Hembree might sub in for the veteran righty for the remainder of the series. Assuming everything checks out with his knee, Wright would still be eligible to return to the Red Sox’ bullpen in the World Series, should the team advance that far past the Yankees, Astros, and Indians over the next couple of weeks.
Retired big league pitcher Barry Zito has a memoir coming out. Much of it will likely track the usual course of an athlete’s memoir. The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and a few fun and/or sad and/or thoughtful anecdotes along the way. One bit of it, though, is not the stuff of the usual athlete memoir.
He writes that he ctually rooted against the San Francisco Giants — his own team — in the 2010 World Series. He did so because he was left off the postseason roster, felt miserable about it and let his ego consume him. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
“It was really hard to admit . . . I rooted against the team because my ego was in full control and if we lost then I could get out of there . . . It would a) prove they couldn’t do it without me, and b) take me out of the situation because I was so miserable coming to the field every day. I was so deep in shame. I wanted out of that situation so bad.”
Zito at that point was midway through a seven-year, $126 million contract he signed with the Giants after the 2006 season. Almost as soon as he signed it he transformed from one of the better pitchers in the game — he had a 124 ERA+ in eight seasons with the Oakland Athletics and won the 2002 Cy Young Award — to being a liability for the Giants. Indeed, he only had one season in San Francisco where, again, by ERA+, he was a league-average starter or better. In 2010 he went 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA and was way worse than that down the stretch. It made perfect sense for the Giants to leave him off the 2010 postseason roster. And, of course, it worked out for them.
Things would improve. He’d still generally struggle as a Giant, but in 2012 he was a hero of the NLCS, pitching the Giants past the Cardinals in a must-win game. He then got the Game 1 start in the World Series and beat Justin Verlander as the Giants won that game and then swept the Tigers out of the series. As time went on he’d fine more personal happiness as well. When his contract ended following the 2013 season Zito took out a full-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle thanking Giants fans for their support. He’d leave the game in 2014 and pitch three more games for the Athletics in 2015 before retiring for good.
Not many baseball memoirs deliver hard truths like Zito’s appears willing to do. That’s pretty damn brave of him. And pretty damn admirable.