Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wright Injured: No $#!+, Sherlock

Carl Pavano got the ball rolling. Aaron Small was the next one to go, and it was only a matter of time before injury extraordinaire J-Wright followed. He’s going to miss his start on Thursday due to back spasms.

While he may not be pitching in a formal game this week, Peter Abraham of the Journal News and the LoHud Yankees Blog reports that the injury may not be that severe.


Jaret Wright's bad back isn't so bad after all and he could throw in the bullpen on Wednesday. Another crisis averted.

Personally, I don’t think it’s an averted crisis. Wright has been horrible this spring, and hasn’t shown much to impress the team since they inked him to a three-year, $21 million deal in the winter of 2004-2005. Thankfully, the team was smart enough to include an escape clause should Wright spend 75 days on the DL in his first two years. He met that requirement last year, spending the time between mid-April and mid-August rehabbing yet another shoulder injury.

The linked article regarding Wright’s health status scares me a bit. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com and Joe Torre combine for some scary ideas regarding the team’s plans for the injury-embattled pitcher in 2006.

Wright has been in competition with Chien-Ming Wang and Shawn Chacon for the final two starting spots in the rotation, though the Yankees will need just four starters for the first two weeks of the season.

"I don't know if this is going to keep him from being a starter," said Torre. "We'll see how he comes out of it, where he is when he comes back to the mound."

Both Wang and Chacon have pitched well this spring, with Chacon displaying the most promise, allowing just one run in his eleven innings thus far. Wang has yielded three runs in his nine innings, though those numbers don’t tell the whole story, since he had a terrible first outing and took an inning to settle down in his second appearance. On the whole, he looks as solid as can be. Both are more than deserving of a rotation spot.

J-Wright, however, has been J-rocked this spring, allowing 12 runs and 21 hits in his 11 2./3 innings. I realize that he is paid more than Wang and Chacon put together, but that should matter little when determining a starting rotation. Wright had a chance to prove himself last year, but was stupid and succumbed to a shoulder injury in the early goings. Wang came in and stepped up, while Chacon was the best pitcher on the staff since arriving in late July. How then is J-Wright even under consideration for the fifth spot?

Maybe this is just talk to keep Wright’s confidence up. Ballplayers read the papers, too, and many of them search for anything written about them. If Torre concedes that the rotation is a foregone conclusion at this point, Wright’s psyche may take a serious blow. In that case, he likely wouldn’t even be effective out of the bullpen (though I honestly don’t think he’ll be of use regardless).

All I can say now is that I’m praying that Pavano doesn’t face any more setbacks at this point. He may not be the ideal answer for the Yankees pitching woes, but he’s certainly a safer bet than the guy with the glass arm. I know Opening Day is just a few weeks away, but I have my sights nervously set on April 15th (and not because it’s tax day).