Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Kennard’

Best of 2007: Moment #17

January 15, 2008

Jason Varitek’s Bat In Cooperstown / Photo by Mike Ashmore (2007)

Moment #17 – Chase Wright’s MLB Debut
April 17, 2007
Bronx, NY

It seemed to be a pretty common misconception in Trenton last year that Chase Wright’s Major League debut was the infamous game in Fenway Park where he gave up four consecutive home runs to the Boston Red Sox.

While it was a historic one, it certainly was not a best moment from last season.

But his actual debut, a five inning outing at Yankee Stadium against the Indians on April 17th, could certainly qualify.

After just two starts in a Thunder uniform, both at Waterfront Park, Wright was summoned to the big leagues by the Yankees after a very stunning and unexpected injury to former Eastern League Pitcher of the Year Carl Pavano.

While Wright and since-traded reliever Jeff Kennard were the only members of the Thunder on the Yankees 40-man roster at the time, the move was still somewhat unexpected since he’d be getting his chance before the likes of Phil Hughes, Tyler Clippard, Matt DeSalvo, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain. 

Granted, Kennedy and Chamberlain were known to very few at that time, but when you consider how many rookie pitchers made an impact with the Yankees in 2007, the fact that Wright got the first shot is impressive.

Perhaps more impressive was how Wright handled himself in his debut, collecting his first big league win while allowing three runs on five hits.

“He went after people. There was a lot of quality there,” Yankees manager Joe Torre told reporters after the game.

“He has a presence about him that makes you feel pretty comfortable.”

But Wright got rocked in his next game to such an extent that the bat that Jason Varitek used to hit the fourth consecutive home run off of him currently resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

“I felt good, I felt more comfortable for that game than I did at Yankee Stadium,” Wright said after his return to Trenton.

“I just made some bad pitches, and they took advantage. But I felt fine, I felt as prepared as I could be. I was revved up as it is, it was Sunday Night Baseball versus Daisuke (Matsuzaka).”

However, Wright’s self-destruction at Fenway worked out well for the Thunder, as he was eventually sent back down to Double-A and played a large role in helping the team win their first championship.

“It’s been a wild ride, I never expected to get up to the big leagues that early,” he told me in August.

“The way I looked at it was I thought I’d be in Double-A all year. If I put up good numbers and pitched well, maybe in August I could get a chance in Scranton and then get an opportunity to go up.”

Wright did go back up in September, but went back up to the big leagues instead of Scranton. He appeared in one more game, picking up his second Major League victory in relief on September 30th against the hapless Baltimore Orioles.

What does 2008 hold for Wright?  It would seem very likely he’ll be at the top of the rotation in Triple-A Scranton, and most likely near the top of the list for another Major League call-up.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com