Bringing back the knuckler

Eric D. Schabell
Contributing Writer

The definition of a knuckler, "a baseball pitch thrown with little speed or spin".

The Red Sox have been blessed to have on of the best ever in Tim Wakefield throwing a knuckler, entertaining the fans at Fenway and across America. This tradition was about to be lost when Time Wakefield finally hung up his hat, but in the minors the Red Sox had a surprise for us. They have another knuckler working on this flutterball, Steven Wright.

Steven Wright has graced Fenway this year for the first time in April against the Athletics, again in July against the Mariners, and finally just this last week against the Mariners. He has been pretty effective against the Mariners in relief efforts so now he will be getting the ball for his 4th appearance, away in Houston tomorrow night at 8:10 p.m., for his first Major League start.

I am as excited as a kid about to count up his candy from Halloween.

I will have to stay up late, being an Overseas Fan, but I can't miss this start. It is something to watch when a knuckleballer is on the mound, be that Tim Wakefield, R.A. Dickey from the Blue Jays, or our very own Steven Wright.

He is 28 years old, was drafted by the Indians in 2006, was picked up in a trade by the Red Sox in 2012, and has finally broken into the big leagues this year. He has a 2-0 record, both wins coming from his appearances against the Mariners out of the bullpen, and boasts a 3.65 ERA. He has pitched 12.1 innings, thrown 206 pitches, 128 for strikes, striking out 9, walking only 7 of the 52 hitters he has faced.

The strategy behind this move is to attempt to give the pitching staff an extra day of rest during their current 10 game, 11 day road trip. He as done so well in the last two relief efforts, that John Farrell lauded "It’s a much-improved Steven Wright" from what he had seen in his first appearance.

Watch for the oversized mitt.
When asked how he would prepare over the next few days, Steven Wright said that, "There’s not much to do. For me, it’s just go out there throw good knuckleballs and hope it’s dancing."

Well I for one can't wait to watch that ball dance in the hot evening air that can be expected in Houston. Game time temperatures expected to be in the high 80's, about as good as you can hope for with a the knuckler. Keep an eye out on how the catcher uses an oversized mitt, how he does put up a target but just tries to snatch the ball out of the air, and count how many pitches a major league catcher drops.

Let this be the start of another love affair between Boston and a knuckleball pitcher, one that lasts into the next decade.

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