To Catch a Knuckleball
There will be no turning to Doug Mirabelli, Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher, this time. No, this time Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross will take on the unenviable task of catching the knuckleball.
Steven Wright has been called up to the Majors to replace injured closer Joel Hanrahan, and so the knuckleball is once again represented in Boston.
The 28 year old Wright was a deadline day trade from Cleveland to Boston in exchange for first baseman Lars Anderson and while Anderson was later traded to the Diamondbacks, then designated for assignment and picked up on waivers by the White Sox, Wright pitched well for Boston’s minor league affiliates and was in the conversation to replace John Lackey when he was put on the disabled list with a bicep strain.
Wright would have to wait a little longer as Alfredo Aceves moved into the rotation spot, but when Hanrahan needed to go to the DL the Wright call was made. Manager John Farrell has indicated that Wright will provide ‘multiple innings’ out of the bullpen, essentially filling the role Aceves was in.
The knuckleball is often described as a pitch that flutters or dances to the plate, it changes direction at will, with no regard for where a catcher, or hitter, expects it to go. Catchers have tried more glove variations than Michael Jackson to attempt to tame the pitch , from softball mitts to modified first base gloves but even with a mitt sizable enough to easily fit all the voters of Dixville Notch, catching the knuckleball is far from easy.
Wright has yet to feature his unpredictable pitch and while he might think all eyes are on him when he does step onto the mound for the first time, I’ll be watching whoever is trying to catch it.