Wright suspension leaves Red Sox with questions beyond the 80 games he'll miss

Nick Friar
March 07, 2019 - 11:35 am

FORT MYERS -- Steven Wright leaves the Red Sox in a tight spot for multiple reasons.

The knuckleballer's 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance has forced Boston to seek alternatives in the bullpen, where he was expected to take a role.

With the team's top relievers primarily one-inning pitchers, Wright could've served as a bridge for two-plus innings. Now, they'll have to look elsewhere—which manager Alex Cora was doing prior to the news.

"I think you guys had a pretty good idea that he was behind," Cora said. "It's where we're at. And, honestly, not too much changes, especially early, in the first half of the season. We still have some capable guys. Knowing where he was, where is, as far as his throwing program, we knew there was a good chance he wasn't going to be part of it. We just keep looking for guys and guys that we can maximize their potential. We went through this in October. We were three hours away from the first pitch in the ALDS and we adjusted, so we will adjust again."

More important is the issue of Wright's usage upon return. When Wright is healthy, he's been a viable option in any role the Red Sox have tested him. But the suspension will cost him more than 80 games, because Wright also will not be eligible for the 2018 postseason.

This not only leaves the Red Sox without Wright for another postseason, it will force Cora to decide if he wants to use Wright or someone else who needs the experience to be of further help in the postseason.

"Hopefully, we got a big lead (in the division) and we can deal with that," Cora said. "I can't answer that question, right now."

After dealing with a year of firsts as a new manager in 2018, Cora faces an unexpected challenge. But there isn't exactly a training manual for this type of situation, so he intends to ask around MLB to figure out the best approach.

"Obviously, you talk to people, that's what I do," he said. "Talk to people around the league and see how they dealt with situations like this. I'm still learning. This is the first situation I have to deal with this. I'll figure it out, we'll figure it out. But right now, the only thing we can do is he's here, get him ready and whenever he can play we'll see, we'll get him to play."