Sox activate Wright, option Smith to Triple-A

June 25th, 2019

BOSTON -- With the season approaching the midway point, the Red Sox got a reinforcement in the bullpen as knuckleballer Steven Wright was reinstated from the restricted list prior to Tuesday’s game against the White Sox.

Wright was suspended in Spring Training for the first 80 games of the season after testing positive for human growth hormone.

“Oh, it’s nice,” said Wright. “It’s good to see the guys and kind of get back to a normal life for during the season. I’m happy to be back and do whatever I can to help the team win.”

To make room for Wright on the 40-man roster, Nathan Eovaldi was transferred to the 60-day injured list. Eovaldi underwent right elbow surgery in April and his comeback has been prolonged by biceps tendinitis. He has been playing catch of late but has not been cleared to resume throwing off the mound. Eovaldi has already spent 60 days on the injured list, so he can return to action as soon as he is ready.

To open a spot on the 25-man roster, righty Josh A. Smith was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Due to the positive test, Wright is ineligible for postseason play.

“I haven’t really thought about that,” said Wright. “Obviously I think it’s going to be hard when the time comes and the playoffs come around. All I can do now is just try to do whatever I can to help them get there. When the time does come, and the playoffs start, I’ll just be a cheerleader and just try to do whatever I can.”

The Red Sox entered the day eight games out in the American League East, but just one game out of the second Wild Card spot.

At the present time, Wright can do a lot to help a bullpen that has been overworked and inconsistent in recent weeks.

Prior to his activation, Wright pitched in five games in a Minor League rehab assignment with Pawtucket, posting a 1.86 ERA in 9 2/3 innings.

As a reliever in 2018, Wright had a 2.68 ERA in 20 appearances.

Questions remain about Wright’s health, as he was unable to pitch in the postseason last year due to his surgically repaired left knee. In 2017, Wright underwent cartilage replacement surgery. That is the same surgery that Dustin Pedroia had, and the veteran second baseman isn’t sure if he will ever play again.

“I don’t think you can go out there and think about that because I think if you do then something else is going to go,” said Wright. “For me, obviously I’m paying attention with him but let’s face it, I’m a pitcher, he’s not, so it’s a lot harder to go out there and cut and run and swing the bat.

“He had to put a lot more pressure on his knee than I do. Obviously I’ve got to throw and I’ve still got to run, I’ve still got to cover bases but the time to do it is on the field and not so much in the weight room like we’re more used to doing, so we’ve kind of changed some things up as far as that and so far it’s been working.”

As for any uneasiness that might exist with his teammates over the suspension, Wright addressed that during a meeting in Spring Training a couple of days after the news came out.

“I mean, it’s always awkward when something like that comes out,” said Wright. “Addressing the team was something that needed to be done. More of apologies because the biggest thing is that you never want to be a distraction. When you have something like that, that’s a huge distraction, it takes you away from the concept of what the team is supposed to be about and that’s doing everything you can to get ready for the season and to go out and win.

“When you have something like that, it’s tough, but I needed to talk to them and it’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do and I just apologized for the distraction.”

Worth noting

• Left fielder was not in the lineup on Tuesday due to what Cora referred to as “heavy legs.”

“He's a little banged up. He's been playing a lot, running around,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “Try to take care of him today. Hopefully he feels a little bit better. His legs are a little bit heavy. If he plays tomorrow, good. We're still going to use him if we need him. If we can see how he feels tomorrow coming in, if he feels better, fresher, we'll play him. If not, we'll take advantage of four days [off] and he'll play in London [on Saturday].”

• It appears that first baseman won’t return until next week in Toronto at the earliest. Pearce has been on the injured list with a low back strain and has been on a Minor League rehab assignment since June 14.

“It doesn’t look like he’s going [to London]. We’ll keep him here, get his at-bats,” Cora said. “Feeling better, but not great. Most likely get at-bats the whole week.”