The Atlanta Braves have reason to hope right-hander Kyle Wright, the majors’ only 20-game winner last season, still has time to be ready for opening day.
If Wright requires more time to prepare for the season, the Braves appear to be developing sufficient depth to fill their rotation.
Wright, 27, has yet to appear in a spring game after having a cortisone shot to address a right shoulder issue in January. He has said his shoulder feels good, but the Braves will be closely monitoring his progress after throwing a bullpen session Tuesday and preparing to throw live batting practice Friday.
If there are no setbacks, Wright could have time to pitch in three spring games, including one next week.
Wright was 21-5 with a 3.19 ERA to lead the majors in wins in his breakout 2022 season. The right-hander added six scoreless innings for Atlanta’s only win in their NL Division Series loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Wright is expected to join Max Fried, Spencer Strider and Charlie Morton as the first four pitchers in Atlanta’s rotation.
Meanwhile, right-hander Ian Anderson allowed only an unearned run and one hit over 2 1/3 innings against the New York Yankees on Sunday. Right-hander Bryce Elder threw three scoreless innings against Houston on Friday.
With Mike Soroka slowed by a hamstring injury in his comeback from his second torn Achilles tendon, Anderson and Elder have been joined by Kolby Allard in the competition for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Two of the three could open the season in the rotation if the Braves choose to give Wright more time to build up his pitch count.
Chicago White Sox pitcher Mike Clevinger said he feels vindicated and is focusing on the season, speaking two days after Major League Baseball announced he will not be disciplined following the investigation of a domestic violence allegation.
“I appreciate everyone who waited until the verdict was out, waited until the facts came out. I appreciate anyone who didn’t rush to judgment and kept their cool and understood the ramifications of these accusations,” Clevinger said Tuesday before the White Sox played the Milwaukee Brewers in a spring training exhibition.
“I was confident the whole time. I feel vindicated,” he added. “I guess you could say this was a bad situation, a devastating situation. I’m just trying to move forward. I want to focus on baseball now. Looking forward to helping my family heal from this.”
The commissioner’s office said its investigation included interviews of more than 15 people, including Clevinger and a woman who said she is the mother of Clevinger’s child, as well as thousands of electronic communications and other documents. Clevinger voluntarily agreed to submit to evaluations by the joint treatment boards established by MLB and the players’ association.
Asked what he learned, Clevinger said: “You’ve got to really watch who you trust. And I’ll leave it at that.”
In an Instagram post on Jan. 24, Olivia Finestead said she is the mother of Clevinger’s child and alleged he fathered two other children who were not hers. She posted a photo of marks on her body with accompanying words that alleged the injuries were “from when he threw an iPad at me pregnant” and “finally left when he strangled me.”
The Associated Press typically does not identify victims of domestic violence or sexual assault unless they agree to be named or come forward publicly with their allegations, as Finestead had.
TURNER’S CHICLETS UPDATE
Boston Red Sox infielder Justin Turner says he and his “chiclets” are doing fine after he was hit in the face by a pitch in Monday’s spring training game against the Detroit Tigers. Turner needed 16 stitches but posted on his Twitter account on Tuesday he is “feeling very fortunate” to have no broken bones and his “chiclets” intact.
The pitch from right-hander Matt Manning knocked the 38-year-old Turner to the ground. Medical personnel rushed to Turner at the plate. Turner was bleeding and had a towel on his face as he walked off the field.
Turner and his wife, Kourtney, posted thank you messages on their Twitter accounts for support from fans. Kourtney said Justin had a lot of swelling but was resting at home.
Turner, a two-time All-Star, signed a $15 million, one-year deal with the Red Sox after nine seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
LEARNING THE 8-SECOND RULE
Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen was penalized an automatic strike for failing to enter the batter’s box and address the pitcher with eight seconds left on the pitch clcok in the fourth inning against Toronto on Tuesday.
McCutchen appeared to be distracted by Blue Jays left-hander Ricky Tiedemann’s movement off the mound and then rushed to enter the box when Tiedemann returned to the mound. McCutchen’s hasty attempt to beat the eight-second count was too late, and the penalty drew boos from some fans.
McCutchen reached on an infield single in the Pirates’ 7-2 win.
BURNES WANTS CLOCK TO TICK IN HIS FAVOR
Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes is using his spring training to adjust to the new rules. The 2021 National League Cy Young winner, who had a league-best 243 strikeouts last season, said his goal in three innings against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday was “to get more comfortable with the pitch clock, and see if we can get some advantages with it.”
“The key to pitching is make the hitter uncomfortable in the box,” Burnes said, adding the advantage is with the pitcher after batters use their one allowed timeout.
“If you can manage the pitch clock a little better, it might give you a leg up,” Burnes said. “The game is all about adjustments.”
Making his second start of the spring, Burnes gave up six hits and two earned runs.
Burnes, 28, said he decided against participating in the World Baseball Classic because “I felt like my important job was to make sure I’m ready for opening day.”
CHASING REDS’ ROTATION SPOT
The Reds reassigned veteran right-hander Chase Anderson to the major league camp. It is an indication Anderson, 35, has a chance to earn an opening day roster spot for his 10th big league season.
The Reds need to fill two starting rotation slots behind their young trio of Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo and Graham Ashcraft. Anderson, who signed a minor league contract on Feb. 18, pitched two scoreless innings on Monday night against Colorado, allowing two hits and striking out five.
“Chase was like we saw at the end of last season,” said manager David Bell. “The first time we’ve seen him this year, really looked like he was in midseason form. He had a really good changeup, his velocity was really good.”
Anderson was 2-4 with a 6.38 ERA in nine games with the Reds last season.
AP freelance writers Gary Shatz and Jack Thompson contributed to this report.
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