Following their 6-1 loss to the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon, the Red Sox got some much worse news regarding one of the guys they were hoping would play a big role in the bullpen for them in 2019. Steven Wright has tested positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide 2, a performance-enhancing substance.
Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright suspended 80 games by @MLB after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide 2 (GHRP-2), according to a league announcement. @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 6, 2019
Wright’s positive test occurred during the offseason, after which he appealed and lost. He will be removed from Boston’s 40-man roster, which now leaves the team with two open spots. In addition to missing the first 80 games of the season, the knuckleballer will also be ineligible for the postseason.
This is the second consecutive season in which Wright will start the season on the restricted list. He was suspended 15 games last season following a domestic incident for which he was charged with domestic abuse and preventing a 911 call. The stark difference in the length of suspensions for the two infractions is, of course, absurd, but that’s an entirely different can of worms.
As for what this means for the Red Sox moving forward, it’s obviously not great. Wright had already been ruled out as starting depth with Alex Cora saying he would be used as a full-time reliever in 2019. Boston’s bullpen has some question marks about which we all know, and the team has shown great confidence in Wright’s ability in that role in the past. It’s reasonable to think they had high expectations and hoped he would grab onto a high-leverage role at some point early in the season, and now they’ll have to look elsewhere for someone to step up.
Wright spoke with the media on Wednesday shortly after the news broke, and he predictably said he was unsure how the substance got into his system. There’s always a chance players are telling the truth when they use this excuse, but given that it is the response from essentially every player who has ever been caught using performance-enhancing drugs, it’s hard to give the benefit of the doubt here. He did take some responsibility for the positive test, at least. Still, between this, the much more serious incident last year that led to his first suspension and his constant injuries, it’s tough to make a good argument for Wright having a prominent role on this team moving forward even after this 80-game suspension is over.