04/13/2013 1:51 PM ET
Despite spring struggles, Wright never lost faith
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
BOSTON -- Jamey Wright never seemed worried during Spring Training that his sinker would be ready by Opening Day, despite posting a 7.36 ERA in 10 Grapefruit League outings. In four appearances this season, he's yet to allow a run over 4 1/3 frames.
"I feel good, I feel strong and I knew I would once it was for real and the adrenalin comes and all that good stuff," said Wright. "I'm still not exactly where I want to be. When I feel the best, I feel like I can go out there and throw nothing but sinkers and have success. I'm not there yet, but it's coming, getting a few outs with it.
"[The sinker is] a pitch where I get ahead in the count and get ground balls, or foul balls, or takes. In Spring Training, it wasn't doing what I wanted it to. It was ball one, ball two and I'm behind in the count. So now it's coming along a little better."
While Wright believed all along that the sinker would arrive, he experienced a sense of relief once it did.
"No doubt about it, yeah," Wright said. "I don't walk off the mound all mad after giving up home runs. I gave up ... four home runs on four sinkers [in Spring Training], and that just doesn't happen. I just sat there scratching my head."
Wright said his spring problem stemmed from a mechanical flaw in his delivery.
"I didn't see a lot of video from the spring, so I didn't know how to correct it," Wright said. "I was trying everything I could. ... The first game I threw during the regular season, I went in there and watched the video, and I'm like, 'Huh, OK, that's weird. Why am I doing that?' But it's real minor and it's not a big adjustment, but if you've been practicing it a certain way all spring, you kind of get used to throwing that way. Tough to get it back."
The veteran of 18 Major League seasons obviously has more seasons behind him than in front of him, so he was asked if he has ever worried that the sinker wouldn't come back once the season started.
"I remember going into Spring Training with Seattle a couple of years ago and I thought, 'If I don't make this team, then I think I'm OK with it. I'll be fine with it,'" Wright said. "Then I think I went out there and threw like 12 innings in the spring, gave up like four or five hits. I just kind of let go. I had the best spring I've ever had, had a great year, had a great year last year. I'm as good now as I've ever been, so that kind of creeps into the back of my mind, too. If I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing out there and having success, I want to keep playing. The main thing is to get a chance to pitch in the playoffs."
Even though Wright struggled in Spring Training, manager Joe Maddon wasn't worried.
"He was doing some things differently from the past in his delivery, and it made all the sense in the world," Maddon said. "He's getting back on top of the ball better. Breaking ball easily how much better it was the last time from the side, the sink, all the stuff. The velocity's been really good. We just need the sink. We need the ball on the ground, and I know he's feeling better about it. So I feel confident."
Trio of Rays relievers handling long relief duty
BOSTON -- Jeff Niemann went into the season earmarked as the Rays' long man in the bullpen. Now that the right-hander is out for the season following right-shoulder surgery, that duty will be handled by Cesar Ramos, Brandon Gomes and Jamey Wright.
"I think a lot of guys in the bullpen are capable of doing it," Ramos said. "For me right now, it's whatever way I can get my work. If needed, I'm always ready to go."
Ramos believes he's sufficiently stretched out to throw multiple innings if called upon to do so.
"I don't see much difference between one and two innings and two and three, especially at this level, with the adrenalin," Ramos said. "I think a lot of guys are capable of longer. I'd be fine going multiple."
• Friday night's rainout was the 34th in club history and the first since the Rays were postponed June 22 at Philadelphia. The game will be made up on June 18 as part of a day-night doubleheader.
• The Rays have already thrown three shutouts, making them the first American League team since the 2002 Yankees to have three shutouts in the first nine games of the season.
• Matt Moore earned a win Wednesday despite allowing six walks over 5 1/3 innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Moore is only the second starting pitcher in Rays history to earn a win despite walking at least six batters and pitching fewer than six innings. On April 6, 2004, against the Yankees, Victor Zambrano lasted just five innings and issued seven walks.
• The Rays' two errors are their fewest in franchise history after nine games.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.