Results tagged ‘ Tim Wakefield ’
Saturday night in Rochester will mark the first time since September 6, 2009 that a knuckleballer will start for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Former International League Most Valuable Pitcher Charlie Zink who, unfortunately, went on to pitch in less than five carrer Major League innings, was the last knuckleballer in Pawtucket.
Steven Wright is the latest and makes his PawSox debut Saturday night in Rochester after being traded at the deadlined for former Pawtucket first baseman, Lars Anderson. Wright, a longtime Indians’ farmhand, was at first saddened by the trade.
“I was depressed a little bit,” said Wright from the PawSox dugout. “You meet so many friends and fans, being in [Double-A] Akron as long as I have, but it’s definitely exciting for me.”
The knuckleball is something that Wright has been fine-tuning, believe it or not, since childhood.
“I started when I was nine-years-old. [Former Reds' pitcher] Frank Pastore threw one back to me when I was taking lessons from him as a kid and I just got fascinated with it.”
It’s been a long journey for Wright since his time playing catch with Pastore. A former second-round draft pick by Cleveland out of the University of Hawaii, Wright spent last off-season playing winter ball in Panama and mastering his mechanics.
“I started throwing fastballs again and found that I have to throw a knuckleball off my fastball mechanics. That’s where I learned how to find the right effort level to throw a harder knuckleball yet be able to kill the spin of the ball.”
Wright is excited to join the PawSox not just because of the opportunity, but also because of the history the knuckleball has in Boston.
“Growing up, it seemed like every time I watched a baseball game, it was the Red Sox and [Tim] Wakefield was pitching. I wasn’t a die hard Red Sox fan, but I was always rooting for them and liked the way that they played.”
Although Wakefield was someone Wright followed closely, he learned last year that trying to pitch exactly like the 200-game winner would not work.
“Last year, when I struggled, I was trying to be too much like a ‘Wakefield’ who threw it really slow. For me, it’s much easier to repeat the knuckleball when I throw it harder, between 77 and 80 mph.”
Wright, who is a former college teammate with PawSox utility-man Jon Hee, was a Double-A mid-season Eastern League All-Star where he went 9-6 with a 2.49 ERA. At the time of his promotion, he was among the league leaders in ERA and strikeouts (101), while pacing E.L. pitchers with a .207 opposing average.
At 27-years-old, Wright is not young by baseball standards. However, when 2012 knuckle-balling All-Star R.A. Dickey was 27-year-old, he was pitching in Triple-A Oklahoma City. In fact, Dickey was pitching in Triple-A until he was 35-years-old.
Just goes to show that despite all the scouting, reports, and analysis, you never really know what can happen in this game. Especially if you have an arm made of rubber.
I had the rare fortune to spend last night with countless other Red Sox fans eager for 2012 at the 73rd annual Boston Baseball Writers Dinner at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in Boston. Nine other PawSox front office members joined me for what was a fun night with great people all eager for baseball. As you can see, I even made a new friend.
One of the highlights of the night for me came when I got to talk one-on-one with the program’s emcee, ESPN’s Karl Revech. Originally from Needham, Ma., Karl was a pleasure to talk with and had great respect for the PawSox.
Below are some pics I took throughout the night:
We had a great view from Table No. 18 only a few rows back.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, manager Bobby Valentine, David Ortiz, and Josh Reddick.
Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, PawSox catcher Ryan Lavarnway, former PawSox pitcher Tommy Hottovy (now with the Kansas City Royals).
Ravech did a terrific job as emcee with the perfect blend of humor and history.
Ortiz accepted the Tim Wakefield Award for his work with children both in Boston and his native Santo Domingo.
Saltalamacchia was given the Good Guy Award. An honor given in memory of the late Tommy McCarthy, a long-time Red Sox press steward. Friendly and cooperative with the press, Salty fits the description of a “good guy” in every way.
The Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year award was given to PawSox catcher Ryan Lavarnway. Between Portland and Pawtucket, the Yale product combined to hit .290 with 32 home runs and 93 RBIs in 2011.
The Ben Mondor Award, close to the hearts of all PawSox fans, went to John McDonald. This honor is given the the New England Player of the Year. A Providence College alum, McDonald played in 84 games last season between the Blur Jays and Diamondbacks.
A Special Achievement Award was given to Red Sox great Jim Lonborg. He was the ace of the staff during his magical 1967 season where he finished 22-9, 3.16 ERA and won the Cy Young. Of almost equal importance, he was my wife’s childhood dentist (no joke).
Despite recently being traded to Oakland, former PawSox Josh Reddick took home the Red Sox Rookie of the Year Award. He ended 2011 with a .280 average, 18 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, and 28 RBIs. Fun fact: this award was first given out after the 1939 season to another left-handed hitting outfielder, Ted Williams.
Hottovy walked away with the Lou Gorman Award and was a perfect choice for his dedication and perseverance in overcoming career obstacles. On June 3rd, a month short of his 30th birthday, he pitched his first major league game for the Red Sox. Tommy is great guy who was recently signed by the Royals.
Let’s get to the important part of the night: the food. Chicken thigh with potatoes and carrots were served.
My thanks to the PawSox for treating me to such a fantastic event. Baseball will be here before we know it.