Steven Wright’s 15-game suspension officially came to an end today, meaning the Red Sox had to get him back on the active roster. As he is without minor-league options, the only other option would have been to designate him for assignment and either trade or release him, but that never seemed like a realistic course of action. Instead, someone had to be removed from the active roster. We talked earlier this week about how Brian Johnson could be the guy to go, but instead the Red Sox have placed Hector Velazquez on the ten-day disabled list with a lower back strain.
Red Sox activate Steven Wright and place RHP Hector Velázquez on the 10-day disabled list with a low back strain. Velazquez pitched two scoreless innings yesterday. He’s been clutch for the bullpen, 5-0 with a 2.10 ERA.— Jen McCaffrey (@jcmccaffrey) May 14, 2018
Wright, if you’ll recall, was suspended right before the season started due to a domestic assault incident in which he was arrested after getting in an argument with his wife. Both he and his wife are adamant that things never escalated to violence, but he was charged with trying to prevent a 911 call so clearly things got bad enough that his wife felt she had to contact the police. We’ll never actually know what happened, of course, but he did have his day in court and his case was retired for a year. MLB still, after a long investigation, decided to suspend him for 15 games. Wright was initially placed on the disabled list to start the season, and after he was healthy he started the suspension.
As for his impact on the mound, the Red Sox have a full rotation at the moment so the knuckleballer will be throwing out of the bullpen. This isn’t an entirely new role for him as he’s made 15 appearances in relief over his career, though they haven’t come since 2015. He’ll likely be in a long relief role, though if he pitches well enough he could work his way into some higher-leverage late-inning spots. Wright also likely serves as the first man up in case of an injury to a starter.
As for how they made room, it’s a little surprising to see Velazquez being placed on the disabled list. There’s always a chance this is a phantom injury to make room, but that would be a little weird since they could have just optioned him. It’s possible he’s just a little sore and they wanted to get him some time off. In the meantime, this could be an audition period for Johnson to prove that he is still worth a spot over Velazquez when that time comes. It will be interesting to see where things stand a couple weeks from now. Of course, around that time is also when we could see a return from Tyler Thornburg, at which point another decision will have to be made. Either way, Wright is in the bullpen starting on Monday, and Velazquez will be shut down until at least Mat 24.