Braves’ Kyle Wright feels ‘very encouraged’ after first spring bullpen session



NORTH PORT, Fla. — Fresh off throwing his first bullpen session of spring training, Braves pitcher Kyle Wright was happy with the results.

“I felt really good,” Wright said. “I was definitely very encouraged by it. Arm felt as fresh as it’s been in a while.”

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Wright threw 23 pitches, all fastballs. He said his target velocity was 85 mph, and he unintentionally exceeded it for much of the session.

In January, Wright went to Atlanta to receive a cortisone injection in his right shoulder, which had felt “sticky” and “catchy,” as he described it. The injection relieved those symptoms.

In Friday’s session, Wright felt the results of it.

“It felt way better,” he said of his shoulder. “It felt better than it has in a long time. I was very encouraged by the fact that the ball was coming out harder than I was anticipating. For me, I think that’s a good sign going forward.”

Wright often exceeded his target velocity mark. “Rather it be that way than have to get after it a little bit more to get there,” he said. One pitch registered at 89 mph, and Wright said the mechanics for that pitch were his best all day.

“I didn’t mean to throw it any harder, but I think I just got really synced up there,” he said of hurling the 89 mph fastball. “After that one, I tried to tone it back down because I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.”

Of course, Wright can throw much harder than 89 mph. But he’s easing back into it because the injection put him behind. He had to restart his throwing progression.

Before the injection, Wright had experienced some shoulder discomfort since 2020. It kept him from extending as far as he wanted.

His fastball, he said, should be much better now that he’s fully healthy.

“If you’re kind of protecting yourself, you’re just cutting yourself off a little bit,” Wright said. “You’re not getting as extended.”

And when he didn’t extend as much, he said, his four-seam fastball might have some accidental cut. It also sometimes played like a two-seamer. When it’s right, it has extra ride.

On Friday, Wright threw to Braeden Schlehuber – who does a bit of everything for the major-league staff – as took his biggest step, to this point, in his build-up. He said his arm-side command was good, which bodes well for his sinker, and his glove-side command was OK (but he added that will come as he throws more bullpen sessions).

Wright said his next bullpen session will come Tuesday, if he’s not mistaken.

“Crank up the intensity a little bit more, start mixing some off-speed (pitches) and go from there,” he said.

Last season, Wright led the majors with 21 wins. He posted a 3.19 ERA in his breakout season.

Now, everyone is waiting to see whether he can continue his ascension.

“I’ve always had high expectations for myself,” Wright said. “That’s why I think whenever I was struggling, I felt like I was forever away from where I wanted to be. So I don’t think that (having) expectations really changes anything. I feel like I’m in a much better spot to where I know you take things one day at a time.

“For me personally, if I look too far ahead, then I feel like I’m not getting the most out of each day. For me, if I stay very momentary, very present, then I feel like I get a lot better work in, I feel like I’m actually truly continuing to get better as a player.”

Wright can’t say for sure whether he’ll be ready to make a start in the first turn through the rotation at the start of the regular season, but added he fully expects to be ready.

“If I stay on this path,” he said, “I’ll be good to go and hopefully be stronger than I have in a long time.”

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