Steven Wright, Again on Disabled List, May Rebound Soon; PLUS: The Jannis Trajectory; and a Position Player Wins While Trying Out His Knuckleball

Not long after our last post about the knuckleballer, Steven Wright of the Boston Red Sox was placed on the ten-day disabled list, for the second time this season. The problem was inflammation of his left knee.

Wright had been knocked out of play for most of the 2017 season by knee trouble, which required surgery. But his present affliction seems to be much more mild. According to the Boston Globe’s Peter Abraham, the Red Sox have cause to hope that Wright will be pitching again “before the All-Star break.”

Wright threw a short bullpen session at Yankee Stadium on Sunday and remained in New York on Monday to be examined by his knee surgeon, Dr. Riley Williams III, at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Williams administered a platelet-rich plasma injection, a procedure that helped Wright significantly in April. Wright then traveled to Washington to rejoin the team and will continue his throwing program….

“He should be fine…. Things are trending in the right direction,” Red sox manager Alex Cora said before the Sox played the Washington Nationals.

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Well, here’s one way to know that your knuckleballer’s knuckleball—in this case, that of Mickey Jannis, currently of the Rumble Ponies—is effectively causing trouble: the catcher is having trouble, in a good way. As reported by Press Herald’s Glenn Jordan:

When Binghamton Manager Luis Rojas saw his catcher having trouble receiving the first few knuckleballs from Rumble Ponies starter Mickey Jannis, he knew it was going to be a good night Friday.

“I think he missed the first three out of five knuckleballs,” Rojas said of catcher Patrick Mazeika. “It was dancing.”

Except for a pair of unearned runs in the first inning, Jannis held the Sea Dogs in check to help the Rumble Ponies squeak out a 3-2 victory before an announced crowd of 5,289 at Hadlock Field….

Jannis (5-2) allowed six hits over seven innings and didn’t give up an earned run. He struck out six, walked none and retired 19 of the final 22 batters he faced.

Rojas concludes that Jannis “was very effective. He was using his three pitches [knuckleball, fastball and slider]. But mainly the knuckleball was the one that set the tone, with the movement that he had.”

In an interview with Rob Persall of last December, Jannis talked about how he became a knuckleball pitcher.

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Curve position player Logan Ratledge lived up to the name of the minor league team by taking up pitching duty and using the knuckleball to help turn things around. Or as the Altoona Mirror puts it, “Logan’s run to the mound saves the Curve.”

Infielder Logan Ratledge was pressed into action pitching in the bottom of the 10th with Altoona holding a two-run lead. Ratledge, throwing mostly in the 70s and dropping in some knuckleballs in the mid-60 range, wound up keeping Akron off the board and getting a save as the Curve escaped Canal Park with a 7-5 win, in a game they once trailed, 4-0.

“I knew there was going to be nothing that was going to overpower them at all,” Ratledge told Curve broadcaster Trey Wilson after the game. “I tried to go with the opposite effect of, instead of overpowering them, I tried to underpower them and lob it in there.”…

Ratledge had made five pitching appearances in his career prior to Saturday, allowing eight runs in five innings.

“I’ve actually never been in a save situation like that,” he said. “It made it a lot more fun. I was focusing a little bit more on my pitches and actually threw a knuckleball tonight, which I’ve always had and I’ve always thrown. I’ve just never done it in a game. I threw it, and it actually worked, so it was a lot of fun.”

As the uncredited reporter notes, it is common enough to draft position players as pitchers in the minor leagues, not common at all to do so in the 10th inning. But the Curve was short-staffed and had just come off three doubleheaders.

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A SportsCenter blogger has posted a slow-mo video of Steven Wright’s signature pitch on Facebook and wants to know: “Seriously, how does anyone ever hit Steven Wright’s knuckleball?”