PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) - Jamey Wright's bid to make the Tampa Bay Rays his 10th major league team began with a perfect inning that hardly felt like one to the 38-year-old right-hander.
The veteran of 17 seasons is well versed in spring training routine and said Monday that he doesn't remembering ever feeling comfortable on the mound in his first outing.
Nevertheless, Wright retired the only batters he faced during a 6-3 victory over a Boston split-squad. He struck out Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino, then escaped without allowing a hit when third baseman Ryan Roberts made a diving stop on Jonny Gomes' hard grounder and scrambled to his feet to throw to first to end the third inning.
``It's the first time out. It feels like you're throwing left-handed for some reason,' Wright said. ``It's awful.'
Still, it was difficult to argue with the results. Wright, who has an inside track on landing a job in the bullpen, threw seven pitches - all for strikes.
``That's what you hope for. You hope you get out of there unscathed, and that's what I did. I was lucky. Felt strong for February,' said Wright, who's played for nine different teams - two of them twice - during his career. He appeared in 66 games in relief for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, going 5-3 with a 3.72 ERA.
``I can't recall a time when I was just like: `Man, start the season right now.' I think it's more the adrenalin thing than anything,' Wright said, reflecting on previous springs. ``Running out from the bullpen that first time, or a starter running out from the dugout the first time and getting it going, trying to remember your whole pregame routine from the year before. But that's why you have spring training.'
Pedroia homered in the first inning off right-hander Alex Cobb and newly acquired Mike Carp had a RBI double off the Tampa Bay starter in his debut for the Red Sox.
Alfredo Aceves started and worked two innings for Boston, allowing a two-run double to Yunel Escobar. He was the Red Sox primary closer in 2012 and expects to get one more outing this spring before leaving camp to represent Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
``I'm feeling pretty strong,' Aceves said after throwing 29 pitches. ``I missed a couple of pitches and walked two, but I felt good out there.'
Carp was obtained in a trade from Seattle last week. He doubled off Cobb to drive in a run in the second inning, then took a third called strike against Cesar Ramos in the fifth.
The first baseman/outfielder was injured trying make a diving catch for the Mariners on opening night last season and wound up appearing in just 59 games while batting .213 with five homers and 20 RBI. He's excited to have an opportunity to rebound with the Red Sox.
``I'm ready to go,' said Carp, who turns 27 in June. ``It's a fresh start, a new beginning.'
Wright is just as enthusiastic about being in camp with the Rays, who've made the playoffs in three of the past five seasons.
Despite being in the majors for nearly two decades, the 1993 first-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies has never played on a team that advanced to the postseason. The last two major leaguers to play at least 17 years without appearing in the playoffs were Damion Easley (1992-2008) and Danny Darwin (1978-98).
The Rays signed Wright to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
``I thought Jamie was really sharp,' manager Joe Maddon said.
``I felt healthy,' Wright added. ``My arm feels great for a young guy, so it's good.'
NOTES: With Boston playing a split-squad game, bench coach Torey Lovullo filled in for Red Sox manager John Farrell. Farrell made a much longer trip from Fort Myers to Dunedin, where the rest of the Red Sox faced Toronto - Farrell's old team. ... When Aceves finished his two-inning stint, he didn't bother to ice down his pitching arm. Instead, he returned from the clubhouse to the bench to watch the rest of the game. ... Maddon said he expects Rays 3B Evan Longoria, who left camp for several days to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their baby, likely will make his spring debut Tuesday.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved