Now Jaret Wright gets his chance.
The hard-throwing right-hander will take the mound when the Yankees open a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles.
Wright, signed to a three-year, $21 million contract this winter, first captured the Yankees’ attention during the 1997 AL division series, when he helped beat New York twice as the Cleveland Indians’ 21-year-old ace.
Nearly eight years, two shoulder surgeries and three teams later, Wright is an older, wiser pitcher, ready to make good on his lucrative pact.
“He’s gone out and pitched well every single time, and he seems to have a calmness about him, which is important,” New York manager Joe Torre said Wright. “That’s important if you’re pitching here, where you can get caught up in everything. But you can see he’s got that bulldog in him.”
Wright rejuvenated his career by going 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA for Atlanta last season. Though he lost both of his starts in the first round of the playoffs against Houston, he made enough of an impression on the Yankees to take a chance on signing him.
New York opened the season by taking two of three from Boston in a rematch of last year’s AL championship series. Johnson won the opener Sunday night and Pavano pitched 6 1-3 solid innings on Tuesday. However, star closer Mariano Rivera blew saves in each of the last two games, including Wednesday’s 7-3 loss.
The Orioles are coming off dropping two of three to Oakland, with their revamped lineup managing just one run in the last two games.
Sidney Ponson will try to leave a turbulent offseason behind him when he starts for Baltimore. Ponson was dropped to the fourth spot in the Orioles’ rotation, a decision manager Lee Mazzilli insists is not a disciplinary measure for his off-the-field behavior.
Ponson spent 11 days in an Aruban jail after he punched a judge in a Christmas Day brawl, was arrested in Florida less than a month later for driving under the influence of alcohol and hurt his pitching hand in a scuffle at a restaurant during spring training.
“You look at things, you put things in perspective, and you never want to cut your nose to spite your face and do something rash,” Mazzilli said. “You’ve got to think what the right move is for the club and what I think is the best way to go. That’s the spot that he fits into for me right now.”