Red Sox release Steven Wright; knuckleballer needs Tommy John surgery, report says

Steven Wright went 24-16 in seven years with the Red Sox.
Steven Wright went 24-16 in seven years with the Red Sox.barry chin/Globe Staff

The Red Sox on Friday released knuckleballer Steven Wright, an All-Star in 2016 whose career was interrupted by injuries and two suspensions.

The team also outrighted outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and righthander Josh Smith off the 40-man roster.

Wright, a 35-year-old righthander, was 13-6 with a 3.33 earned run average and a 1.25 WHIP over 156⅔ innings in 2016. Problems started soon after.

Reconstructive knee surgery limited Wright to five games in 2017. He was then arrested in Tennessee on Dec. 8, 2017, on a domestic violence charge.

Wright’s case was “retired” by prosecutors in Tennessee on the stipulation he complete an anger management course and incur no criminal charges for a year.


Major League Baseball suspended him for 15 games at the start of the 2018 season.

Wright returned in May and had a 3.38 ERA in 10 games. But he returned to the injured list with knee inflammation after allowing 10 earned runs in 3⅓ innings against Seattle on June 22.

The Sox brought back Wright as a reliever in September and he was exceptional, allowing one earned run over 10 games and 13⅔ innings.

Wright was on the roster for the Division Series, but re-injured his knee shortly before Game 1 and was replaced. He then had a second knee surgery in November.

“I still have some strength to build up,” Wright said in February heading into spring training. “I’m not taking it slow to where I’m babying it, but I want to make sure we do it right. We have a good game plan going forward as far as workload.”

But on March 6, MLB suspended Wright for 80 games after he tested positive for a synthetic drug that promotes the production of human growth hormone.

Wright claimed he didn’t know how the substance got in his system.


He was reactivated from the restricted list June 25, but his return was short-lived. Wright took a line drive off his right big toe July 13 while facing the Dodgers.

He subsequently developed elbow problems and will need Tommy John surgery, according to WEEI.com. Wright hopes to return to baseball.

Eligible for arbitration, he was due to make $1.5 million.

Wright was a second-round pick by the Cleveland Indians in 2006 as a conventional pitcher, then traded to the Red Sox in 2012, after he became a knuckleballer, for first baseman Lars Anderson.

In his seven seasons with the Sox, Wright went 24-16 with a 3.86 ERA in 347⅔ innings.

Efforts to reach Wright for comment were unsuccessful.

Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @byjulianmack.