Braves’ Kyle Wright emotional about heading to injured list with shoulder soreness

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright (30) aims a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Wednesday, May 3, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kyle Wright (30) aims a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Wednesday, May 3, 2023, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

MIAMI – Standing in front of his locker, Kyle Wright became emotional. He got choked up as he discussed the right shoulder soreness that forced his early exit, and the injured-list stint that will soon follow.

“I mean, it (stinks),” Wright said. “That’s really the best way to put it.”

At first, Braves pitching coach Rick Kranitz went out to talk to Wright because the Braves noticed his velocity had dipped in the third inning. It appeared to be a somewhat animated conversation. Then Kranitz yelled something back to the Braves’ dugout and, soon, assistant athletic trainer Jeff Stevenson ran out onto the field. Manager Brian Snitker joined all of them.

The group – Wright, Kranitz, Stevenson, Snitker and Atlanta’s entire infield – huddled together on the mound, with Kranitz talking to Wright and Wright responding from behind his glove.

Eventually, Wright walked off the field with Stevenson.

Wright said he felt really good when he started the game. In the second inning, he didn’t feel so great, but felt well enough to keep going. Then came the third inning, when Wright, who hit 95 mph multiple times earlier in the evening, saw his velocity drop to 92-93 mph.

He wanted to continue pitching, and lobbied to do so.

Kranitz overruled him.

“At that point, I wasn’t being smart,” Wright said. “I give Kranny a lot of credit for protecting me from myself.”

“Kyle wanted to compete,” catcher Sean Murphy said. “That’s the kind of guy he is. These things happen. Kyle wanted to pitch, they just had to make sure to protect him from himself. That happens. Hopefully, he bounces back with no problems. But he wanted to go out there and keep pitching, he wanted to get himself out of the spot he put himself in. That’s why we like Kyle.

“With me, I just asked why I was out there,” Snitker said. “When I got there, I said, ‘Why am I out here?’ And (Wright) said, ‘My shoulder’s barking a little bit.’ He wanted to stay. It was like, ‘Nope, we’re not doing that.’”

On Wednesday, Wright was charged with four runs (three earned) over two innings. He struck out three batters and walked one.

Wright is an important part of Atlanta’s rotation. The Braves couldn’t afford to allow him to hurt himself worse. They need him this season.

But it’s easy to see why Wright became so emotional when talking to reporters after the game.

“I was able to keep throwing, so I wanted to try,” Wright said. “I didn’t want to put the bullpen in a tough spot. (Kranitz) made the call, and it was the right one.”

In January, Wright received a cortisone injection to eliminate right shoulder inflammation. He entered spring training behind, but said his shoulder felt the best it had since 2020. He’d been dealing with shoulder discomfort since then. But he found ways to pitch through it.

Of this shoulder soreness compared to the one he previously dealt with, Wright said: “(This) was a little bit different, it was kind of more in the back. I didn’t feel like it was anything crazy, but it was enough to where I felt like it was definitely affecting the way I was pitching.”

You feel for Wright, who began this season on the injured list. He hoped it wouldn’t happen again, let alone so soon.

“It (stinks). I hate it for him a lot,” Murphy said. “I want him to be full strength and not have to worry about it and not have it in the back of his mind. But here’s where he’s at, and you got to deal with what you got.”

Over the first few years of his career, Wright went up and down between Triple A and the majors. In 2022, he experienced a breakout season, leading all of baseball with 21 wins.

Wright won’t ever feel complacent, but he finally felt comfortable. He had found his place in the majors.

“When the Braves came to town, you look at the numbers and you’re going through the scouting report like, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy’s having a heck of a season,’” said Murphy, who played for Oakland last season. “And you get in there and face him (and it’s like), ‘Ah, that’s why.’ So I know what he can do, and he knows what he can do, and nobody else does.”

“Honestly, he’s a tremendous pitcher for us,” Ronald Acuña Jr. said through interpreter Franco García. “Unfortunately, these things happen, but hopefully he can recover quickly and come back and keep helping us.”

The Braves pushed back Max Fried to start Friday versus Baltimore. They’re recalling left-hander Dylan Dodd to start Thursday’s series finale versus Miami. Dodd gives the Braves five starters, but it remains to be seen how Atlanta will fill Wright’s void until he returns.

After Wright exited, the Braves continued scoring runs and beat the Marlins, 14-6. They will look for the sweep on Thursday.

For now, the Braves will support Wright through a difficult time.

“Try to just build him up when you can, because I’m sure he’s pretty down right now,” Murphy said. “He’s not too happy with what happened tonight. But the rest of the guys were there for him, scored a bunch of runs and the bullpen finished the job for him.”