Wright eager to wind up, but not his career

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Still weeks from throwing, pitcher hopes rehab allows a comeback

June 01, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Jaret Wright still couldn't say definitively that he will throw another pitch in the major leagues. But that thought alone continues to drive him while he rehabilitates a chronically bad shoulder that has kept him away from the Orioles since his last start on April 29.

"I still want to play really badly," said Wright, who was 0-3 with a 6.97 ERA for the Orioles when he went to the disabled list for the second time this season. "As far as motivation, you have the whole rest of your life to be at home and hang out with the family. It's not that you don't like it, but being on borrowed time with how long your career goes, you want to get everything you can out of it.

"I haven't even thought about next year," he said. "I'm thinking about [how] they traded for me and I want to go out there and play with these guys. The guys here are awesome and I want to do what I can."

Wright, who was acquired from the New York Yankees in an offseason trade for reliever Chris Britton, has been rehabbing his twice surgically repaired shoulder in California, where he lives. He dropped by Angel Stadium yesterday to check in with trainer Richie Bancells, manager Sam Perlozzo and his teammates.

He said he is making progress, but estimated he is still four weeks from starting a throwing program.

"The way I look at it, I'm doing everything I can to pitch again," Wright said. "I really can't sit here and say I'm confident I'll throw again. I don't think anybody knows that. But I'm doing everything I can to throw again."

Wright was nearly reduced to tears in the Orioles' dugout when he couldn't pitch more than three innings in his last start against the Cleveland Indians because his shoulder became so painful. He said his immediate thought was his career was over. His father, Clyde Wright, a former major leaguer, told a reporter early last month that his son had likely pitched his last game, but Jaret Wright still hasn't given up.

"He's seen me go through a lot in my career. He's earned the right to say whatever he wants to say, so it's not a big deal to me," said Wright. "It doesn't change anything to me. Anytime you get hurt, you think about what's going to happen. You always think of, `Can I come back? Will I come back?' It's definitely crossed my mind."

Wright said that if he was told he needed another surgery, he would have retired. But he didn't want to give up without trying to rehab it one more time with a vision of getting back on the mound later this season.

"That was the fourth time I thought my career was over," he said. "Twice I've had to have surgery. In [2005], I thought it was over. I am not the kind of guy that goes out there and if I feel a little something, I'll come out. I was taught you go out there and if you are throwing 75 or 80 [miles per hour], you've got to be out there [until] it falls off. I've had it fall off four times."

Trading places

It was not lost on Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada that he easily could have been preparing for last night's game as a member of the Los Angeles Angels. The Orioles and Angels aggressively discussed a deal before last year's waiver trade deadline that would have sent Tejada to the Angels for pitcher Ervin Santana and infielder Erick Aybar.

But Orioles owner Peter Angelos did not want to trade Tejada for that return and Tejada also didn't want to learn to play third base in the middle of a pennant race. So he remained an Oriole and for now, the rumors of Tejada going to the Angels, who still are looking for a bat and a third baseman, have subsided.

"Last year, there was a lot of comments, but I just wanted to come here and play baseball," he said. "I'm pretty happy with the situation that we are in right now."

Tejada reiterated yesterday that he'd like to stay with the Orioles, but acknowledged that it is largely out of his control. At this point, the Orioles have had no serious discussions about trading Tejada, but that could change if the club falls further out of it near the trade deadline.

"There is nothing I can do about it. I just work here," said Tejada. "I play here and I am going to be here until the team decides that I am not going to be here. For me, I hope there are no rumors about trading me. But if they come, there is nothing I can do. They are going to be out of my mind. I am just going to play baseball."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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