After being suspended for 80 games due to a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright will be eligible to return on June 25. The way things are going the return can't come soon enough.
Wright is currently going through his minor-league rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket, having pitched in his initial outing Sunday. The righty gave up one run, striking out two with no walks after pitching 1 2/3 innings against the Red Wings.
Perhaps most importantly Wright's surgically-repaired knee hasn't been an issue.
"All the feedback from that is that he’s feeling great, even when he was working out down there in Fort Myers," said Cora. “He’ll do his pitching stuff and then add more pitching, fielding practice and doing his work in the game and all that, so as of now, red flags."
Cora reports that the plan is to gradually progress Wright moving forward, keeping him under four innings for the time being. According to the manager, Wright will continue by pitching what will likely be three innings tomorrow.
“He’s been good. He’s been doing OK, so we’re keeping 3-4 innings, we’ll keep him in that range,” he said. “I think pushing him a little bit sometimes it worsens if it’s five. I don’t know. We’ll see where we decide later on, where we’re at, but as of now, the most he’s going to pitch is four innings.”
When asked how Cora anticipates utilizing Wright in the future, he explained it would be similar to last season before the knuckleballer was sidelined by his knee.
“Probably the way we use him towards August, September last year,” Cora said. “I think that would be good for us. Obviously last year, he was to the point where we were going to try him in high-leverage situations with men on, but then he was a little banged up, we weren’t able to do it and then he got hurt.”
As for any residual impact in the Red Sox clubhouse from the PED suspension, Cora noted the topic has already been addressed by the pitcher and his teammates.
"He did already, in spring training. Actually, it was the second day after the suspension, he addressed the whole group,” said Cora. “We’ll see how it goes, we’ll see how he feels about it. If we have to do it again, we have to do it again. But we went through that already in spring training.”