The ninth inning Sunday went like this for Jamey Wright: ground ball out, ground ball out, ground ball out. That is why the Rays signed the well-traveled Wright to a minor-league contract in January. The ability to induce ground balls plays well in front of the Rays' infield defense and becomes a strong option in the bullpen. But Wright's ninth inning followed an eighth inning during which he walked the leadoff batter on four pitches, then allowed a two-run homer one out later to Kevin Youkilis on a 2-0 pitch that put the New York Yankees in front 6-5 in a game they won 7-6 in 10 innings. Wright's sinker isn't sinking as much as he would like, which isn't too much of a concern for the 17-year veteran who is no stranger to pitching his way on to clubs during spring training. Still, the Rays have until Tuesday to decide whether to put Wright on the 25-man roster. They can release him or assign him to Triple-A Durham, where they will have to pay him a $100,000 retention bonus. And, Wright would have to accept the assignment. "The good thing is my cutter and my curveball are as good as they've ever been in the spring, so that's a big-time positive, and I know that other pitch will be there, too," Wright said. "I'm just excited to go. Hopefully it's in a Rays uniform. We'll see. We'll see what they want to do." Wright has pitched 10 innings spanning nine games. Sunday was his first two-inning stint. He has allowed seven runs on nine hits and has been touched for three home runs. What makes the looming decision interesting is Brandon Gomes has been terrific this spring — five hits, two runs, nine strikeouts in nine innings. Gomes would make the team if the Rays decide not to keep Wright on the big-league roster. But, Gomes has an option remaining, and those always play a big role in these decisions. When asked before Sunday's game if Wright will make the cut, Rays manager Joe Maddon said, "I don't want to jump the gun on that. I'll say this. I like what he's done and who he is, and I do think he'll be a big plus for us."
Tampa Bay Rays must make a Wright decision
Tampa Tribune | Mar 25