This is not a normal spring training game. The Red Sox sent a knuckleballer, 28-year-old Steven Wright, to the mound Monday against Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Tim Wakefield, who won 200 games throwing the knuckleball, was on hand to see Wright pitch in person. Then Wakefield was expected to report to Red Sox camp Tuesday to start working with Wright.
“I’m looking forward to it. Not only to see R.A. pitch, but also this is my first time seeing Steven pitch. Looking forward to working with him,” Wakefield said before Wright’s two-inning performance in which he allowed two hits and struck out three.
Wakefield never met Wright personally but the two had spoken on the phone before Monday. When Wright was in the Cleveland organization last season, former Red Sox coach Rob Leary connected the two.
“It’s somebody to talk to who knows about the pitch that he’s throwing,” Wakefield said. “When I was first coming up, I had pitching coaches who told me, ‘I don’t know what to tell you.’ It’s refreshing to be able to contribute to the legacy of the pitch by helping him out.”
There is a fraternity among knuckleballers. Tom Candiotti helped Wakefield out, as did Phil and Joe Niekro. Now Wakefield wants to do his part. That Wright is with the Red Sox makes it all the better.
The knuckleball is in vogue. Dickey won the National League Cy Young Award last season when he was with the Mets. Dickey and Wakefield also were featured in the documentary “Knuckleball!”
Knuckleballers take center stage for Red Sox
Boston Globe | Feb 25