Knuckleball Pitcher Steven Wright Is Back on Red Sox Roster

Steven Wright with the Red SoxAfter delays caused by injuries last year and other problems, Steven Wright will now be pitching again for the Boston Red Sox. Ricky Doyle at NESN.com reports:

The Red Sox added the knuckleballer to their active major league roster before Monday night’s game against the Oakland Athletics. To make room, Boston placed right-hander Hector Velazquez on the 10-day disabled list with a low back strain.

Wright began the season on the 10-day DL while recovering from left knee surgery he underwent last May. He was reinstated from the DL on April 28 but placed on the restricted list for 15 games by Major League Baseball, which suspended the 33-year-old for violating the league’s Domestic Violence Policy.

Wright went 1-3 with an 8.25 ERA in five starts last season before going down for the year. He went 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 24 starts in 2016, a season in which he earned an All-Star nod.

“It’s definitely a long journey,” Steven Wright said in an interview before the game. “It’s something you never think of when, you know, you’re having the year that I had in ’16. And then all of a sudden it just changed with one play.” But he has used the time away from the game to regain his health and now he’s just “eager to get out there and do everything I can to help the team win.”

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In a 2012 post about the knuckleball (or about “Poets and Knuckleballers”), Joe Posnanski says inspiring kids to pursue a particular career path—like knuckleball pitcher—is not about how many role models they see.

Evel KnievelYou would have to say my childhood was more or less that Golden Age of knuckles. No, there weren’t a lot of knuckleball pitchers around. But you didn’t need a lot. There weren’t a lot of daredevils around either, but just the one—Evel Knievel—made daredevil a viable career option for every kid I knew. There weren’t a lot of astronauts around, but walking on the moon seemed a viable career option too. You didn’t need quantity. You just needed someone to show the way.

Like every other kid baseball fan I knew, I was fascinated by the knuckleball and I would try to throw it every chance I could. I don’t know that I ever made a ball knuckle even a little bit. Sometimes it looked like the ball might have moved a little. Then again, maybe not. Still, I kept throwing, and I kept hoping that one day it would moonwalk and twist and do the mashed potato…and I would have that chance to pitch in the major leagues….

What a marvelous and odd way to make a living. Knuckleballs are not like anything else in baseball—or in sports, really. It is the only thing in sports I know of that is a constant surprise not only to the opponent or the fans but the person who is actually initiating it.

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