Wright 'happy' to work on knuckleball with Wakefield

Wright 'happy' to work on knuckleball with Wakefield
March 6, 2013, 10:15 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Knuckleballer Steven Wright joined the Red Sox organization last season, a trading deadline acquisition from the Indians in exchange for Lars Anderson. It was just a few months after Tim Wakefield retired after spending nearly two decades with the Sox.

And while Wakefield is no longer throwing his fluttering pitch, he remains a part of the organization and a valuable resource. For Wright, who is still relatively new to throwing the knuckleball, it’s the first time he’s had someone within his organization that he can talk about the confounding pitch.

“It’s nice to have him here so I’m not in the dark,” Wright said. “It’s nice to have him help me out. I know I got some work to do but I’m happy to do it.”

And the Sox know they have to be patient as Wright continues to work on the pitch. Wakefield and his career are Exhibit A to how that kind of patience can be rewarded.

“If you look at the bigger picture,” said manager John Farrell. “[Wright is] in the early stages of trying to perfect this pitch, and one that’s an imperfect pitch. So that’s going to be a constant pursuit. And I know that with Wake being here and the amount that they can converse back and forth. But at the same time, he’s got to learn that through pitching in between the lines and not just on the side. So that’s part of his development.”

As was the case after his outing Wednesday afternoon. In two innings against the Pirates, he faced 14 batters, with five scoring. He gave up five hits and three walks, being charged with the loss as the Pirates beat the Sox, 9-3.

Wright knew while he was on the mound that his mechanics weren’t right. As soon as he came out, he and Wakefield retreated to the video for a review.

“He could see it, I could feel it,” Wright said. “But he can definitely see it. It’s not just one thing. It’s a couple things but it makes a big difference, especially throwing a knuckleball. You’re trying to throw it out of a fastball slot, and when you start throwing it from back here they can see it. So even when you do throw a good one they have more time to react to it.”

Despite a swirling, 12-mph wind to start the game, Wright did not use weather as an excuse.

“I don’t think it affects it that much,” he said. “Today I was just overthrowing. I think my head was flying open so they were seeing the ball a lot sooner. So for me if I can just stay within my mechanics, the weather’s not going to dictate it that much.

“I definitely need to make quicker adjustments but working with Wake’s definitely helped. I was talking to him now about the mechanical issues I was having. It’s just trying to stay within and not trying to throw it hard and just trying to throw it right. Whatever the velocity is, it is what it is.”