OAKLAND - For a few years now, Jamey Wright has known every spring training could be his last.
In camp with the Seattle Mariners, however, Wright looked like a 36-year-old wunderkind – and won a job with 12 scoreless innings of relief work.
Ever had a spring like it?
“Never anything close,” Wright said.
So what happened to a man who has pitched in all or parts of 13 big-league seasons, including 28 games with the Mariners last season? Turns out, then-manager Don Wakamatsu asked for Wright.
And then-pitching coach Rick Adair changed his career.
“Rick and I talked about age, and how when you’re young your arm always catches up with your delivery,” Wright said. “As you get older, you need to speed your arm up.”
Adair had Wright drop is hands from near chin-high to waist high before starting his delivery.
“All of a sudden all those pitches I’d missed with were in the strike zone, consistently,” Wright said. “I went from being frustrated to confident in where my pitches were going, and that was a huge difference.
“It worked last season with the Mariners, I took the same approach and delivery into camp.”
A year ago, in 28 relief appearances, Wright was 0-1 with a 3.41 earned-run average – numbers that got him invited to spring training with Seattle.
As he kept rolling off scoreless innings, he erased every reason not to keep him, and the Mariners went from considering him as a long reliever to thinking of him as a man they may call on late in games.
“I know what I am now as a pitcher,” Wright said. “I’m a ground-ball pitcher who tries to get a hitter to put the ball in play with three, four pitches. I’m not a swing-and-miss guy, although if I jump ahead 0-2, I may try to put someone away with a breaking ball.”
There was a clause in Wright’s contract that the team had to tell him by a certain date he had made the team or offer him his release. On that day, in the Mariners’ food room, pitching coach Carl Willis made it official.
“He walked up and said, ‘You made the team,’ ” Wright said. “At some point, I know I reflected on the spring I’d just had and thought, ‘Holy (expletive)!’ I haven’t allowed a run. That was amazing.”
Michael Pineda’s final start was a minor league game Thursday in which he worked six innings, threw 92 pitches and allowed three runs. “I felt good, I felt strong,” he said. “I’m excited, but I’m ready.” ... With two hits Friday, Ichiro Suzuki is one back of Edgar Martinez’s team career record of 2,247.
Seattle plays at Oakland in a 6:07 p.m. game on ROOT. Probable starting pitchers: Seattle’s Jason Vargas vs. Brett Anderson.