Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Journeyman Wright bids for Rays' role

PORT CHARLOTTE — After spending 17 seasons in the majors, pitching for nine different teams (two twice), being released seven times, shuttling between starting and relieving, bouncing between the majors and minors and wondering more than a few times if he was done, Jamey Wright has just about seen it all. Except for one thing: the postseason. And that is why, more than anything, the 38-year-old packed up and left his wife and three children in Dallas again and headed off, this time to Rays camp in Port Charlotte, to try once again to live out the scene he has imagined in his head, oh, pretty much every day for the past 30 years.

"That's the reason why I play," Wright said. "That's the reason why I say goodbye to my family and why there's crying and bawling, and it's just the saddest thing ever. But that's why I do it.

"My wife and I have talked, and she said it best, that you've been blessed to be able to do this for your job, your career. She understands. But there's the one driving factor — getting that opportunity to pitch in the playoffs and on that biggest stage.

"And I still, with all my heart, believe it's going to happen."

Wright just missed last year, a key reliever on a Dodgers team that was eliminated from wild-card contention with two days left to play. "As close as I ever came, and it was devastating," he said.

He was an inactive member of the 2002 Cardinals team that beat Arizona then was eliminated by San Francisco in the NL Championship Series. "That definitely does not count," he said.

Nor does the 1995 Double-A playoff game, or the march to a third-place finish in the 1993 Oklahoma state high school tournament, or the three Little League championships.

Wright wants to pitch in a big-league playoff game.

"I've dreamed about it ever since I was 7 years old," he said. "I know exactly how it's going to feel. And I just want to feel it and have it not be a dream."

Wright is one of only three players the last 30-plus years to play this long without getting to the postseason. Part of the reason, a big part, that he signed with the Rays was the chance to end that drought. And though he took a minor-league deal, as he has the past seven seasons, at this point he is only interested in a major-league opportunity, which he should have with the Rays.

Wright started his pro career as the Rockies' first-pound pick in 1993 — for reference, there are five Rays on the spring roster born in 1990-91 — and made his big-league debut in 1996. While many of those Colorado teammates are long retired — such as Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette, Ellis Burks, Vinny Castilla — Wright is still playing.

"I was by far the youngest guy on that team; I was 21 years old when I broke in," he said. "Now I'm the oldest guy in this camp. … It's gone by so fast."

Wright has had to make some concessions to age, primarily dropping his opposition and accepting the switch to a full-time relief role during the 2007 season. Secondly, getting very good at it, with his ability to get ground-ball outs a major attraction for the Rays, who could use him in an early-and-often role.

"The last couple of years I've felt as good as I've ever felt and thrown as well as I've ever thrown," he said.

Wright — who offers unsolicited that a reason for his good health is that "I've never taken steroids" — said that as of now he plans to keep playing as long as he can. There is, though, one scenario that could lead him to stay home with Marnie, 9-yearold daughter Presley Kile (named after former teammate Darryl Kile) and sons Jett Alan (6) and Kingston Cash (4½).

"The only way it would be my last year would be if we won the World Series," he said. "Then I would beg my wife to let me come back for one more year, but if she said no, I would probably be okay with it."

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Wright stuff?

Playing 17 seasons without making the playoffs puts Rays nonroster reliever Jamey Wright in rare company, one of only three over the past 35 years to go that long:

PlayerSeasonsYears
RHP Danny Darwin211978-1998
RHP Jamey Wright*171996-2012
INF Damion Easley171992-2008

* active Source: Elias Sports Bureau



































Oklahoma City

2003, 2007

Arlington/

Frisco

2007, 2008

St. Petersburg

2013

Arizona League

1993

Los Angeles

2012

Sacramento

2012

San Francisco

2006

Seattle

2010, 2011

Denver

1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2005

Colorado Springs

1996, 1997, 1999

Omaha

2003, 2004

Milwaukee

2000, 2001, 2002

Cleveland

2010

Indianapolis

2000, 2002, 2003

Salem

1995, 1997

Huntsville

2000

St. Louis

2002

New Haven

1995, 1996

Journeyman Wright bids for Rays' role 02/20/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 9:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays vs. Blue Jays, 1:10 p.m. Thursday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Today: vs. Blue Jays

    1:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  2. Browns to start rookie QB DeShone Kizer vs. Bucs

    Bucs

    BEREA, Ohio — DeShone Kizer will be next through the Browns' quarterback turnstile.

    He doesn't want it to spin again soon.

    Browns rookie QB DeShone Kizer, left, will start vs. the Bucs on Saturday. He will be Cleveland’s 27th starter since 1999.
  3. Florida Gators' QB situation remains up in the air

    College

    GAINESVILLE — With 10 days remaining until Florida's season opener against Michigan, Gators coach Jim McElwain still hasn't named a starting quarterback.

    Does it bother him?

    "Not at all," he said Wednesday.

  4. Bucs journal: Three key players miss practice as precaution

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Three days before the most important game of the preseason, the Bucs held three key players — WR Mike Evans, LB Kwon Alexander and G J.R. Sweezy — from Wednesday's practice as a precaution.

    LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
Bucs middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (58), intercepting a pass thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during practice Saturday ( Aug. 19, 2017), sits out Wednesday's practice with a hamstring injury. .
  5. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.