BOSTON -- Knuckleballer Steven Wright's mission over these next couple of days is to prove to the Red Sox that he is healthy enough to pitch in the World Series.
During Boston's workout on Sunday at Fenway Park, Wright pitched a simulated game and did pitcher's fielding practice, and he looked relatively comfortable on his surgically repaired right knee.
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Wright had a cartilage restoration procedure performed on that knee in May 2017, and he will need to undergo an arthroscopic surgery after the World Series.
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But the right-hander thinks he can give Boston a few innings during the Fall Classic against the Dodgers, and that could be a difference-maker for a Boston bullpen that was running on fumes by the end of the American League Championship Series.
The Red Sox had Wright on their AL Division Series roster against the Yankees, but he experienced discomfort prior to Game 1 and was removed from the roster the next day, which automatically disqualified him from being eligible for the ALCS roster.
"We'll see how he reacts [on Monday]," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "We've still got until Tuesday to make decisions. He put himself in this conversation now, so he needs to show us that he's healthy. Not only today, but see how it reacts tomorrow."
In the final month of the regular season, when Wright came off the disabled list, he turned into a shutdown reliever for Cora, posting a 0.66 ERA in 10 appearances. In three of those outings, Wright went two innings or more.
Cora said he expects the Red Sox to go with 11 pitchers on their World Series roster, regardless of whether Wright is on the roster, as they did in the first two rounds. The insertion of Wright would lead to either Brandon Workman or Richard Hembree not being on the roster. Boston likes going with 14 position players so they can be aggressive about pinch-hitting for their catchers. Blake Swihart is the team's third catcher and also is a utility infielder/outfielder.
Mookie gets more work at second
For the second straight day, Red Sox star right fielder Mookie Betts did drills at second base, only intensifying speculation that he could see action there when the series shifts to Los Angeles for Games 3-5.
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Veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who is out for the season, was on the field with Betts on Sunday, giving him tips on the art of turning a double play.
Cora and his staff are still weighing the pros and cons of playing Betts at the position he played regularly in the Minors but hasn't with any regularity since 2014.
"The thing is that in the National League, they bunt and they advance runners. We've got to talk about all this stuff," Cora said. "Like I said, there's a chance, but it's not like he will [for sure]. But we have to be prepared. If one day I feel like, yeah, that makes sense, we will do it.
"But, we've got some capable guys to play second, and we've got some matchups that we have to take a look at. We don't throw too many ground balls. It's either strikeouts or fly balls, so in that sense, well, that's something we'll take into consideration."
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By playing Betts at second at Dodger Stadium, the Red Sox could field an outfield of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and J.D. Martinez. Betts would play second base in place of Ian Kinsler or Brock Holt.
Cora again managing against friend
For the third straight postseason series, Cora will be managing against someone he has a close relationship with. In the ALDS, it was Aaron Boone, who Cora worked with at ESPN. In the ALCS, it was AJ Hinch, the man Cora served as bench coach for with the Astros last season. And this time around, it is Dave Roberts, Cora's former teammate with the Dodgers.
In fact, Cora remembers well the moment on July 31, 2004, when Roberts was traded from the Dodgers to the Red Sox, creating the opportunity for one of the most famous stolen bases in baseball history.
"I remember a lot [about Roberts], but I still remember in '04 when he got traded," Cora said. "We were in San Diego at that time, we had the best team in the National League West, and he got called into the office by Jim Tracy and they told him he got traded to the Red Sox. He was down, upset. It was a good group [in Los Angeles]. We felt that we had something special going on.
"I still remember, I told him, 'Hey man, you're going to a great baseball city. You never know what can happen. Just enjoy the ride.' He came here, he stole that base and that night, I texted him, I was like, right after he stole second base, 'I don't know what's going to happen here, but if this happens, you're going to become a hero.' And he is here in this city.
"Great guy, great family guy, a friend of mine. I've been pulling for him for a while. He's done an outstanding job with an outstanding organization. I'm very proud that he's here in the World Series."