Steven Wright takes stock (sort of) of ‘The Next Knuckler’
|02.14.13 at 10:09 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Steven Wright couldn’t watch it.
The Red Sox right-hander, in spring training as a newly minted member of the 40-man roster, does not have The MLB Network channel at his residence in Fort Myers. As such, he was unable to watch Wednesday’s premier of “The Next Knuckler,” the reality show that features former Red Sox knuckleball practitioner Tim Wakefield (with co-host sidekick Kevin Millar) judging the efforts of five former quarterbacks (including Doug Flutie) to learn how to throw the pitch that made Wakefield a 200-game winner.
Wright’s curiosity about the program has been elicited by the promos he’s seen. After all, he’s now entering his third year as a full-time knuckleballer. Though a relative newcomer to the pitch, he’s shown enough promise that the Sox didn’t want to expose him to the Rule 5 draft for fear of losing him as a starting depth option to another team.
He talked to Wakefield for the first time in July, just days before the Sox acquired him from the Indians in a deal at the trade deadline, and Wright has again been in touch with the longtime Sox starter just a few days before arriving in Fort Myers. While Wright is intrigued by the reality show, he also admitted (with a laugh) to frustration that he’s already, in some ways, a victim of it.
“I thought [the idea for the show] was kind of interesting. It’s a tough pitch to throw,” he said. “It just sucks for me because Wake’s there and not here. I’ve gotta wait for these guys to get done before I work with him!”
Wright suggested that he was willing to fight the winner of the reality show and to wrestle the title of the next great knuckleballer from whomever the show declares its victor. Still, when Wakefield arrives in Fort Myers — Wright suggested that he might arrive as soon as next week, with the retired pitcher suggesting he’d like to watch Wright throw a bullpen session, take notes, and then work in more hands-on fashion in a second session — Wright would like him to come bearing gifts.
“I’ll say, ‘You better bring me a hat!’ ” Wright mused. “I’ll wear it around — ‘Next great knuckleballer.’ ”
For more on the 28-year-old Wright, who is one year removed from nearly abandoning the knuckleball, click here.
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