Rays likely to keep struggling reliever Wright on roster

Published March 24 2013
Updated March 25 2013

TAMPA — RHP Jamey Wright feels he just needs a little more time to get his sinker to do what it's supposed to do. And the Rays, who face a Tuesday deadline to put the veteran reliever on the roster, seem likely to give it to him.

Though Wright allowed his third spring homer in Sunday's 7-6 10-inning loss to the Yankees, manager Joe Maddon said several times he was confident Wright would get his mechanical issues worked out and be of help to them this season.

"Once he gets the ball back on the ground he's gonna be fine," Maddon said. "I just think the ball's been in the air too much."

After allowing a two-run homer to Kevin Youkilis in the eighth, Wright got three ground ball outs in the ninth.

"I think what you saw in the (ninth) inning is what we can expect more of," Maddon said.

Assuming both No. 5 starting candidates, Roberto Hernandez and Jeff Niemann, are on the team, Wright would get the last bullpen spot ahead of Brandon Gomes. Maddon said nothing has been decided, but "I'll say this — I like what he's done, I like who he is and I do believe he could be a big plus for us."

By Tuesday, the Rays either have to put Wright on the 25-man roster (or DL), release him or pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to go to the minors.

Wright, 38, who has a 6.30 ERA and has allowed nine hits and three walks in 10 innings, is also confident he will be effective: "It's just a matter of getting my sinker to do what it's supposed to do."

LITTLE THINGS: The best thing about RHP Jeremy Hellickson's 95-pitch outing was that he worked seven innings.

Hellickson minimized damage despite allowing two homers and "still falling behind way too many guys." He flashed his Gold Glove skills with a pair of nifty defensive plays, sneaking in behind Ichiro Suzuki when he took a wide turn and scooping RF Matt Joyce's throw. He did a better job holding on runners.

But what mattered most was getting through the seventh, which he did only six times in 31 starts last year.

"That's what I want him to learn how to do," Maddon said. "How to get deeper into games, how to utilize your pitches to do that. … I really liked the idea that he went seven just to get into that mind-set."

MEDICAL MATTERS: OF Sam Fuld was encouraged after going 1-for-6 and playing five innings in rightfield in a minor-league intrasquad game, testing his previously sore right hamstring several times. "It was perfect, really," Fuld said. "All felt good." … RHP Kyle Farnsworth said the right middle finger he bruised Saturday was not sore, just "a little black and blue," and won't keep him from making his final two appearances Wednesday and Saturday. … OF Matt Joyce said he was "fine" after turning his right ankle and falling during pregame warm-ups.

MYERS OUT: Top prospect OF Wil Myers has been sidelined for a few days in minor-league camp due to right wrist soreness. The issue is considered minor, with Myers expected back in action this week. … INF Tim Beckham has been sidelined with left wrist soreness and also is expected back soon.

MISCELLANY: The Rays lost when Yankees minor-leaguer Ronnier Mustelier opened the 10th with a homer to left off recently demoted RHP Josh Lueke. "A fly ball the wind took," Maddon said. … Look for SS Yunel Escobar to be in short right when the Rays shift against left-handed batters; Maddon said they like his range and arm strength. … Radio man Andy Freed, out sick since Wednesday, hopes to return tonight.

Staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]