Red Sox knuckleballer Wright makes rare start vs. Tigers

STATS/TSX

BOSTON -- Two seasons ago, Steven Wright made the All-Star team, going 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA for the Boston Red Sox.

Tuesday night, Wright, who has had to battle knee surgery and a 15-game major league baseball suspension for a domestic dispute, makes his first start since last April 29. He joins the rotation for a night in the opener of a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park.

This is considered a spot start for Wright, with manager Alex Cora giving the rest of his starters an extra day off after the knuckleballer made six relief appearances since coming off his suspension.

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"We're going to push everybody back," Cora said when announcing Wright's start. "I do feel this is a time of year that, if I'm feeling it I know they're feeling it. With the traveling, all those day games last week. I don't know what time we're going to get in tomorrow to Boston, so I think it makes sense to give him that start. I think it's good for him and also I think pushing everybody back is going to be beneficial for us in the long run."

Wright, 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his relief outings, faces Tiger rookie Artie Lewicki, who will make his second major league start -- also a spot rotation appearance.

Opponents are hitting just .167 in 16 innings against Wright this season. But Tuesday, he tries to reverse previous problems against the Tigers. In three career appearances against Detroit, Wright is 0-1 with an 8.84 ERA.

The Red Sox (41-19) lost the first two games of a four-game series in Houston but then won Saturday and Sunday and despite having Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia on the disabled list, they remain a game ahead of the New York Yankees in the American League East.

The Tigers (29-32) have been playing well, winning nine of their last 13, including a split of a makeup double-header with the Yankees on Monday.

Also Monday, the Tigers made pitcher Casey Mize the first pick of the amateur draft, general manager Al Avila saying the Auburn right-hander, "will become a pillar in our player development system that's going to bring winning baseball to Detroit for seasons to come.

"Being a college pitcher -- especially coming from the Southeastern Conference -- we know Casey has seen elite competition before."

Lewicki, starting as the Tigers are playing 18 games in 17 days, has also made six relief appearances this season -- but is starting now with Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco Liriano on the disabled list.

After losing the day portion of the Monday twinbill, the Tigers came back to earn a split in the nightcap. The double-header came in the middle of a road trip, with Detroit returning from Toronto to play the two games before moving on to Boston.

Drew VerHagen failed in the first game but Mike Fiers (5-3) came through in the nightcap, with Shane Greene picking up his 15th save. Detroit pitchers struck out 14 in the second game, including Aaron Judge five times -- as Judge became the first player since at least 1920to fan eight times in a double-header.

The current Detroit roster is a combined 13-for-35 (.371) against Wright, with Nicholas Castellanos 3-for-6 (.500) and Jose Iglesias and Victor Martinez both 3-for-7 (.429).

Lewicki will face the Red Sox for the first time in his career.

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