Wright to be full-time reliever for Red Sox in '19

February 16th, 2019
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Steven Wright stretches during baseball spring training, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in Fort Myers, Fla. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)John Minchillo/AP

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- You no longer need to call knuckleballer a swingman. Red Sox manager Alex Cora envisions a defined role for the veteran righty in 2019, and it will consist of him flummoxing hitters in the mid-to-late innings.

Say hello to full-time reliever Wright.

"I think he's a weapon for us in the bullpen," Cora said. "It's a change of pace. We talked about it going into October. Everybody thought he was going to be the guy in October. Too bad he got hurt.

"But he can come in and give us three [innings], give us one. He does an outstanding job holding runners. It's tough on the catchers, but all of ours can catch the knuckleball, so I'm not worried about bringing him in with traffic. We did it toward the end. With this team, where we're at with the roster, he's a weapon for us out there."

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Ever flexible, Wright just wants to stay healthy.

"Being a reliever is fine with me. It's one of those things, it's just such a different look," Wright said. "Everyone is used to seeing, especially the way the game is now, 95-plus [mph], so to have someone throwing a knuckleball, I'm already throwing 20 mph slower from everyone else. That can be a different look and a different viewpoint to the hitters."

The big question in the bullpen is who will close. Cora continues to offer no hints.

"March 28, man. You have to wait and see," Cora said. "We have arms, we have stuff. It's just a matter of seeing how we do it in Spring Training. March 28, if we're up three or whatever, we'll find out."

Beware of Devers

Cora won't be surprised if third baseman has a breakout second full season. Devers was plagued by nagging injuries and inconsistency in 2018, and he took it to heart with a strong offseason of working out and improving his diet.

"He's on a mission," Cora said. "If this kid clicks the way [Miguel] Andujar did with the Yankees, we're that better offensively. Looking forward to him coming here and just working out. It's not that he has to lose weight or whatever. Just take your grounders, work on your swing and be ready for the season."

Next wave

Two young arms that should stick out during Spring Training? Righty Travis Lakins and lefty Darwinzon Hernandez. Both have been starters throughout their Minor League careers, but they could make an impact in Boston's bullpen as early as this season.

"We know what they have," Cora said. "We know the stuff. We know what they can do. Lakins, that was pretty impressive [today]. You can see the fastball up in the zone, good breaking ball, good cutter. We have a really good idea of what they can do, and we'll see what happens in Spring Training and throughout the season.

"I do feel, I said last year, it takes more than 25 guys to win a World Series. It takes a whole organizational effort, and at [some] point in the season, they'll contribute."

Up next

Position players will take physicals on Sunday, which is their reporting day. Star slugger , the only player not to be seen yet at camp, will arrive.

The Red Sox will have their first full-squad workout on Monday, which will be preceded by a team meeting that will include ownership, the front office, the entire coaching staff and all players. Cora and others will speak to the team.