After his freshman season at the University of Hawaii, Wright pitched in the Alaska League.
In 2005, he had a banner summer in the Cape Cod League, tying for the league saves lead while posting a 3-0, 0.63 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 29 innings.
In 2006, Steven led Hawaii to it's first NCAA regional playoff appearance since 1993, going 11-2 with a 2.30 ERA.
In 2007, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Wright as the 29th-best prospect in the Indians' organization.
- His first day on a Major League roster came on April 26, 2013 with the Red Sox. And the funny thing is, if Boston had not put Wright on their 40-man roster, he was prepared to move on from baseball.
"If they didn't put me on the roster I was going to retire," he said. "I got a family. Being in the minor leagues, you don't make any money. I had a baby on the way. I couldn't afford to support a family making 10 grand a year.
"It's one of those things, where fortunately it worked out. I got put on the roster, and here I am, just trying to take it day by day."
That baby on the way? Shannon and Steven Wright will be celebrated Ella Grace's third birthday at the end of October, 2015.
In 2015, Baseball America rated Wright as the 22nd best prospect in the Red Sox organization.
April 18, 2016: In Fenway Park's tiny visitors' clubhouse before the Blue Jays' win over the Red Sox, an attendant delivered a package to Chris Colabello. He instantly knew who it was from. It was a gift from Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright to make amends for hitting Colabello in the helmet with an 87-mph fastball on the day before.
"He's a great guy," Colabello said. "I told him yesterday I know there wasn't any intent on his part. Him and I have played against each other for a long time. We've had a relationship to the point where we go out of our way to say hello to each other any time we're playing against each other.
"So certainly a kind gesture on his part, completely unnecessary. I sent [former teammate] David Price a text message and told him to say thank you for me. [Wright] didn't have to do that, but that's the kind of kid he is.
"I saw the way he was standing around home plate. I knew nobody felt worse than him. I felt bad that I was down on the ground as long as I was because I wanted to reassure him that I was OK. As I was going down to first, he said something to me and I was like, 'Dude, I know. Don't worry.' And then he made it a point when the inning ended and I was coming around the bases to come over and I patted him on the back and said, 'Listen, trust me, I know. Just let it go.' There was not an after-effect for me or anything, so he can put his head down and rest easy." (Maureen Mullen / MLB.com)
Wright first started the knuckleball at age 9.
Wright set a MLB record in his first major league start. Unfortunately it was for most passed balls in an inning (4).
July 2016: First time MLB All-Star. Wright is the third knuckleball pitcher in seven years to finesse his way to the All-Star Game, joining Tim Wakefield (2009) and R.A. Dickey (Cy Young in 2012).
Dec. 21, 2017: Steven Wright's domestic assault case has been retired and it will be dismissed in 12 months if no other offenses occur in the meantime.The Red Sox knuckleballer, who had it retired in court, was arrested on domestic assault charges earlier this month. Wright's attorney issued a statement which called the incident "purely emotional" and said Wright didn't raise a hand to any family member.
Wright and his wife Shannon released the following statement, sent to MassLive.com via Wright's agency,: "We are pleased that the recent case with Steven has been retired, and that we were able to resolve this matter quickly.
"We regret the attention this has caused our family, the Red Sox, and Major League Baseball. We remain committed to working together to improve our relationship. We are blessed to have the love and support of our friends, family, and church, and want to say a special thank you to them. We look forward to the next couple weeks together with our children during the holidays."
LEGAL NOTE: A 'retirement' is the first phase toward a dismissal, which will come in twelve months, assuming no other offenses occur in the meantime. MLB still is conducting its own investigation. "MLB is currently handling this situation under their joint policy so it would inappropriate for us to comment at this time," Kevin Gregg, Red Sox senior director of media relations, wrote to MassLive.com.
Feb. 14, 2018: Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright was asked at Spring Training about being arrested at his Tennessee home in December. Having been charged with domestic assault and preventing a 911 call, Wright said he is now in counseling with his wife, Shannon. The case was retired in Williamson County court, but Wright remains under investigation by Major League Baseball.
“When it comes out, you obviously think of the worst,” Wright told ESPN’s Scott Lauber. “But it wasn’t that bad, especially on a personal level, especially because I never touched her. That’s probably the hardest thing, for me to sit there and see people talk about being a wife-beater and all that stuff and I didn’t even make physical contact.”
March 23, 2018: Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright has accepted a 15-game suspension without pay for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy, it was announced. Wright has agreed not to appeal the discipline, and he's eligible to continue to participate in all Spring Training activities prior to Opening Day.
Commissioner Rob Manfred issued the following statement: "My office has completed its investigation into the events leading up to Steven Wright's arrest on the evening of Dec. 8, 2017. Mr. Wright cooperated with the investigation. While it is clear that Mr. Wright regrets what transpired that evening, takes full responsibility for his actions and has committed himself to the treatment and counseling components of the policy, I have concluded that Mr. Wright's conduct on Dec. 8 violated the policy and warrants discipline.
"In addition to serving a 15-game suspension, Mr. Wright has agreed to speak to other players about what he has learned through this process, and to donate time and money to local organizations aimed at the prevention of, and the treatment of victims of, domestic violence."
The suspension will start as soon as Wright is placed on the Red Sox's active roster for the regular season. There's some question of when that would be, due to the fact the right-hander underwent left knee surgery last season and is a candidate to start the season on the disabled list. The Red Sox issued the following statement:
"We fully support MLB's Domestic Violence Policy, the discipline set forth by the Commissioner's Office and Steven's acceptance of the ruling. While we are disappointed that this incident occurred, we are encouraged that Steven is taking meaningful steps to learn from this unfortunate incident."
Wright has been going at a slower pace than the other pitchers during Spring Training. He threw in a Minor League game, but he has yet to make a Grapefruit League start. If Wright's suspension starts at the beginning of the regular season, the first date he would be eligible to pitch for Boston is April 16 at Fenway Park against the Orioles. It remains to be seen if Wright will be in the rotation or the bullpen when he returns. (I Browne - MLB.com - March 23, 2018)
April 28, 2018: The Red Sox activated knuckleballer Steven Wright from the disabled list, and he was then placed on the restricted list for 15 games by Major League Baseball.
MLB announced in Spring Training that Wright was suspended for 15 games for violating MLB's domestic violence policy. Recovering from the left knee surgery he had last season, Wright started the season on the disabled list.
May 14, 2018: Wright rejoined the Red Sox on May 14 against the Athletics.
March 6-June 25, 2019: The Red Sox were without knuckleballer Steven Wright for nearly half the regular season and the entire postseason, as Major League Baseball announced Wednesday the righty was suspended 80 games without pay after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Wright tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide 2 (GHRP-2), a violation of the league's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program. His suspension will be effective at the start of the 2019 regular season.
One of the conditions of MLB’s drug policy is that players who are suspended aren’t eligible for the postseason. The first game Wright will be eligible to pitch for the Red Sox was June 24, the season’s 81st game. (Ian Browne -MLB.com)
June 2006: Steven signed with the Indians for a bonus of $630,000 after being drafted in the second round, out of the University of Hawaii. Don Lyle is the scout who signed him.
July 31, 2012: The Red Sox sent Lars Anderson to the Indians, acquiring Wright.
Jan 11, 2019: Steven and the Red Sox avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $1.75 million.
Oct 18, 2019: The Red Sox released Wright.
- March 21, 2021: The Pirates organization signed free agent Wright.
|Birth City:||Torrance, CA|
|Draft:||Indians #2 - 2006 - Out of Univ. of Hawaii|
Wright is a righthanded 72-75 mph KNUCKLEBALL pitcher. He can vary the velocity of his knuckleball, throwing it as low as 65 mph with the flutterball peaking out at 78 mph. He also has an 82-85 mph two-seam SINKER and an 84-89 mph four-seam FASTBALL, but it doesn't have much movement. So he gets hit hard when he leaves it up in the strike zone. Steven also has a 68-71 mph CURVEBALL. (Spring, 2018)
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 4.8% of the time; Sinker 9.1% of the time; Change .3%; Curve 2.6% of the time; and Knuckler 83.1% of the time .
2018 Season Pitch Usage: Fastball 3.5% of the time; Sinker 2.5%; Changeup 1.7% of the time; Slider less than 1%; Curve 1.5% of the time; and Knuckler 90.4% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 85.81 mph, Sinker 82.9, Change 82 mph, Slider 76.5, Curve 73.3 mph, and Knuckler 76 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: Fastball less than 1% of the time; Sinker 5.3%; and Knuckler 93.9% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 83.4 mph, Sinker 82.7, and Knuckler 74.5 mph.
Wright has dabbled with a knuckler since he was a kid. Then, late in 2010, he began taking the pitch seriously. He worked with Charlie Hough in 2012 and made huge strides with the pitch.
The Indians' front office had heard from Wright's teammates that in playing catch between appearances, Wright threw a great knuckleball, and over time, he had begun to use the knuckler in games as a finishing pitch, something to throw to hitters when he was ahead in the count.
The Indians encouraged Wright to go all-in on the pitch.
During 2013 spring training, the Red Sox had Tim Wakefield work with Steven on his knuckler. Steven also had conversations with longtime knuckleballers Tom Candiotti and Charlie Hough, Jason Bere and others, Wright embraced the pitch and continued to learn about it.
Similar to R.A. Dickey, Steven tossed his knuckler with above-average velocity, running the pitch up over 80 mph. But Wright's command wavered. So in 2014, Wright slowed things down (See below for that info.)
"I'm still new to throwing the pitch," Wright said late in the 2013 season. "I stride as far as my leg goes. What I mean by that is, other pitchers like to drive off the mound. I drive off the mound, but I try to let the foot just fall. That allows my hand to stay kind of from straight back to straight forward and keep somewhat of a whip.
"My hand stays on a straight path. When I stride too far, what happens is my elbow will start to drop and I'll start to push the ball. What happens is the ball will move, but it doesn't have that late drop. That's what makes the knuckleball good, is having the ball going in a downward angle.
"Me and [pitching coach Rich Sauveur], we've been working on how to keep it in the strike zone more without jeopardizing the movement," he said. "Each outing with the side session and going into games, I've been able to find the common denominator with my stride and my hand to keep the ball starting at a good plane to get more strikes." (Jake Seiner-MLB.com-7/07/13)
- Steven has a lot of pitching knowledge. And great makeup.
It was late in August 'way back in 2010 with Akron that Indians officials saw him toying with a knuckleball during a workout. Cleveland suggested that Wright commit to the pitch full time, a decision that put him on a path to reaching the big leagues in 2013.
But in 2014, Wright made what could be a pivotal adjustment to the pitch. In the past, his efforts to throw a harder R.A. Dickey-style variation on the pitch led to head-turning movement but control challenges.
“Guys couldn’t catch it last year,” said Rich Sauveur, Wright’s pitching coach in Triple-A Pawtucket in 2013-14. “My catchers had trouble with it. I had to tell him, why don’t we slow it down, make it less movement and make it a little more tasty for the hitter. Guys are taking these pitches because they’re moving so much, and they’re moving out of the zone.”
With the slower speed making the pitch easier to control, and more tantalizing to hitters, the improvement in Wrights walk rate was palpable. He walked 2.1 batters per nine innings at Pawtucket in 2014, compared with a rate of 4.4 per nine from 2011-2013. He even threw more strikes in the big leagues showing more consistent ability to throw strikes and generate swings and misses.
What that means going forward is a mystery, as few pretend to know whether Wright is more likely to become the next Tim Wakefield or the next Charlie Zink. Regardless, Wright showed enough in 2014 that the team views him as a meaningful contributor in 2015. (Spring 2015)
Typically, conversations about the knuckler tend to conjure soft-focus images. Words like "floater” and "butterflies” often are used to describe a pitch designed to be thrown with not enough force to break a pane of glass. Red Sox manager John Farrell, however, stood that notion on its head when he praised the pitch's "violent” action.
Wright understood where his manager was coming from.
"You don't hear it that often," he said, "but he's talking about the late movement you get, that violent late movement. A knuckleball, throw it with late action it can be violent. Anything that moves late is going to have that conception of ‘violent.'
"It's true of any pitch. You don't want it to move right out of your hand, you want it to move late in the zone. You want to get guys to commit to the pitch, then move off the bat."
It still looks more like being assaulted by a feather duster than pummeled by a sledgehammer.
No one was a bigger influence on Steven Wright the spring of 2016 than former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Wakefield, one of the most successful knuckleballers in Major League history, has worked with Wright through the first few weeks of Spring Training 2016, zoning in on his release point and hand placement.
That attention to detail was evident in Wright's spring outings.
"The fact that he takes the time to come down means a lot. He's been in baseball for 20 years and taking time away from his family is really humbling," Wright said. "It makes me want to learn even more. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be where I am now. It's small, minor adjustments, but it makes a huge impact.
"Once I stayed back, I was able to accelerate through the ball, which helps me out," Wright said. "I've been working tirelessly to control my body and stay back. I still have work to do, but I felt really pleased."
Wright also mixed in a few curveballs, a pitch Red Sox manager John Farrell believes will help him succeed.
"He's always been a guy who can throw the ball over the plate. That's a talent in and of itself," Farrell said. "You see him continue to evolve as a knuckleball pitcher. With the addition of a curveball, it gives hitters an additional look." (Roberts - MLB.com - 3/11/16)
As of the start of the 2020 season, Wright had a career record of 24-16 with a 3.86 ERA, having allowed 43 home runs and 330 hits in 347 innings.
2020 Season: Wright pitched seven seasons with the Red Sox from 2013-19, compiling a 3.86 ERA in 347 2/3 innings with 271 strikeouts in 81 appearances. He did not pitch in the '20 season. Wright’s tenure in Boston began during Pirates general manager Ben Cherington’s time as the GM of the Red Sox.
Wright, an All-Star in the 2016 season, fits the bill of an either-or pitcher to bolster the Pirates’ depth, as he’s made 44 starts and 37 relief outings. In his solid ‘16 season he pitched four complete games. The Bucs are looking for ways to fill enough quality innings for a 162-game season following the shortened ‘20 season, and Cherington has made it a point to pick up versatile players with starting capabilities.
The righty is also a unique arm in the Majors, as he throws a knuckleball in an age with fewer and fewer knuckleballs being employed. Wright transitioned to throwing a knuckleball vs. employing a conventional arsenal in 2011, one year before he was acquired by Boston from Cleveland, which selected him in the second round of the 2006 MLB Draft. (J Crouse - MLB.com - March 22, 2021)
- A knuckleball moves too unpredictably for catchers to stick with their usual mitts — they need something bigger. So when Wright takes the mound, Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway has two gloves in tow. His own, and one of Steven's.
"Yes, he brings he's own glove in," Lavarnway said. "He might be the only reliever that brings a glove with him when he comes from the bullpen. It's a knuckleball glove. It's much bigger. When he started in (Triple-A) Pawtucket, I'd use that glove and then my regular glove felt like an oven mitt afterward."
Most major leaguers like to have gloves and mitts of their own, which have pockets that have formed specifically to their hand. But Wright's moving around between Triple-A and the majors, and it'd be unreasonable to expect every catcher he encounters to have a knuckleball mitt. Instead he has one of his own that harkens back to the days of Steve Sparks (now doing K.C. Royals radio), who pitched from 1995-2004.
"It's called the Sparks model, Pro Sparks," Wright said. "It's Rawlings. Steve Sparks, when he used to play, I guess they made one for him. That's the one that I use and I know R.A. Dickey uses. I know Salty (Jarrod Saltalamacchia), when he caught Wakefield, he would use Victor Martinez's glove, like a modified first baseman's glove.
"It's one of those things, especially for me coming up and down, it's easier for me to bring it, so I can just take it wherever I go. Instead of them having to take an extra glove in their bag, it's just easier for me."
- 2006: Wright had mononucleosis all through the summer of 2006 and did not pitch until 2007 for the Indians organization.
May 18-27, 2012: Steven was on the D.L.
August 14-24, 2012: Wright was on the D.L. with tightness in his right shoulder.
March thru June 5, 2014: Before spring camps opened, Wright underwent hernia surgery, remaining in extended spring to get in pitching shape.
August 14 to end of 2015 season: Wright was sent to the seven-day concussion disabled list.
A fly ball struck Wright in the back of the neck while he was running sprints during batting practice in Miami.
August 22, 2015: Wright's return to the Red Sox's rotation had to wait a little longer. In fact, he missed the remainder of the season.
August 5-26, 2016: Wright was placed on the disabled list with right shoulder discomfort.
May 8-Nov 2, 2017: Wright had season ending surgery after undergoing an invasive surgery on his left knee that included a cartilage restoration procedure.
March 26-April 28, 2018: Wright was on the DL with recovery from a cartilage procedure.
June 26-Sept 1, 2018: Wright was on the DL with left knee inflammation.
- Oct 6, 2018: Wright was on the DL with left knee injury.
- July 14, 2019: Wright was on the IL with right great toe contusion..