Steven Wright was selected to the 2016 All-Star Game.
However, Wright likely won’t be remembered for that once his baseball career ends. Or the fact that he was a knuckleballer, the last of a dying breed of hurlers who throw the pitch.
Instead, Wright has the stain on his career of pulling off the daily double, if you will, of suspensions.
In 2018, Wright was banned for 15 games for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. A year later, he got popped for 80 games by MLB when he tested positive for Human Growth Hormone.
Wright knows he cannot hide from his past transgressions as he tries to resurrect his career. It is a matter of public record.
The 36-year-old signed a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend that includes an invitation to major league spring training. Wright spoke with the Pittsburgh media in a videoconference Monday and said he was honest with the Pirates about his past transgressions.
“I gave them all the information because I wanted them to be comfortable knowing what had happened but that’s not who I am,” Wright said. “It’s a dark past. It’s something I’m definitely sorry for not only myself but the game of baseball and my family. But we’ve moved past that.”
The Pirates were also willing to move past that.
Knowing Pittsburgh general manager Ben Cherington helped Wright’s cause. Cherington was the Red Sox’s GM in 2012 when they acquired Wright from the Cleveland Indians in a minor league trade.
MORE FOR YOU
Wright made has major league debut two years later then was picked to the All-Star Game in ’16. He has pitched in 81 games in the big leagues, all with the Red Sox, and compiled a 24-16 record with a 3.86 ERA.
Now Wright will try to make it back to the major leagues after sitting out last season while recovering from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery.
The Pirates like the idea he can both start and relieve. Wright is also willing to pitch at Triple-A Indianapolis if he does not make the big league club out of spring training.
The Pirates scouted a showcase Wright held for teams in February in Nashville. He admits he wondered if his career was over when it took more than a month before anyone called with a job offer.
However, Wright is steadfast in his belief that he can still get major league hitters out,
“If I didn’t feel good, you wouldn’t be seeing me here,” Wright said. “I wouldn’t have tried to get signed. I wouldn’t have done the showcases. I wouldn’t even have picked up a ball. But I feel good. I want to go out there just leave it all on the field, so when that time does come — because it comes for everybody — I’ll have no regrets.”
Wright doesn’t have much time to make the team this spring. Camp is in its homestretch as the Pirates are set to open the season April 1 against the Cubs in Chicago.
This, it seems more likely Wright will stay in Bradenton, Fla., when minor league spring training begin next month, and stay ready in case there is a need in Pittsburgh.
“Throwing bullpens doesn’t correlate as much to throwing to hitters (in) games, so a lot of it is going to be reps,” Wright said. “But so far, I feel really good physically, mentally I feel like I’m in a good spot, so now it’s going to be getting some more reps and getting into games.”