Right-hander Jamey Wright has been through a lot. The 38 year old is a 17-year veteran in the major leagues, transitioning from a starter to a reliever and making major league appearances for nine different major league teams. But even after everything he has seen, Wright considered the chance to join the Rays a special opportunity.
“Their history here, there’s been several veteran guys come in and contribute pretty big time,” Wright said. “For me, it’s an opportunity to come in and I’m not worried about making the team or doing anything, I worried about getting myself ready to go for another season. And that’s all I think about right now. If I throw the ball the way I know how, the way I’m capable of, there will be an opportunity here or somewhere else.”
Wright understands that there’s no guarantees for him as spring training begins. But at the same time, the Rays have shown that they’re not afraid to rely on veteran relievers and have even helped several of them revitalize their careers. Wright could be even more valuable because of his versatility as a pitcher based on his previous history as a starter.
“I’ve had to come in and eat up two or three innings and I’ve come in and throw one pitch, get a ground ball and get two outs. Down [in the bullpen], unless you’re Fernando Rodney or one of the guys who knows when they are pitching, it’s kind of an attitude of be ready for anything. It’s fun and games down there for the first few innings, but then once that certain inning hits, it’s time to lock it in and get ready to go and not be caught off guard.
Unlike other relievers the Rays have signed, Wright isn’t a reclamation project- he’s coming off a 3.72 ERA and an outstanding 67.3% groundball rate in 67.2 innings pitched for the Dodgers in 2012- and he was just waiting for another team to desire his services. The Rays answered the call, and if things go as expected, Wright will be a major part of the Rays’ bullpen in a middle relief role this season.
He’s not with the Rays anymore, but it’s been very exciting for Rays fans to hear about Scott Kazmir making a big to return to the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians. Kazmir talked to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN about his journey back.
“I spent so much time asking other people for answers. I knew if I was going to turn it around, it had to be me. I feel like I’m in a good place now. When things aren’t going your way and you don’t have a clue how to get it back, it’s frustrating. There’s anxiety coming to the field. Now my mind is clear. I feel good to be with an affiliated organization. It’s nice to be here.’’
It was almost beyond comprehension how Kazmir had established himself for years as the best starter the Devil Rays had ever seen by far and then before we knew it, he was out of baseball. It’s taken an unbelievable amount of mental toughness and motivation (he has made over $30MM in his career, after all) for Kazmir to find his way back, and best of luck to him continuing his comeback as a member of the Indians.
From a dominant lefty of the Rays’ past to a dominant lefty of the Rays’ future, Teddy Mitrosilis of ESPN wrote about (Insider-only) Rays left-hander Matt Moore as a candidate to break out in 2013. Mitrosilis discussed how Moore was pretty enigmatic in his rookie season in the major leagues but still showed plenty of positive signs, and 2013 could very well be the season that everything comes together for him. Armed with a mid-90’s fastball that generating to highest whiff rate of any fastball thrown by a starting pitcher in the major leagues and two other potential plus pitches in his curveball and changeup, Moore has what it takes to be an ace in the major leagues and soon. If that happens in 2013, pairing him with David Price at the top of the Rays’ rotation will be a deadly combination for opposing teams.