NORTH PORT, Fla. — For Kyle Wright, the beginning of the season will be atypical.
In a matter of days, his teammates will head north for opening day in Washington. Wright, however, will stay in North Port.
He will stay back after Saturday (his final Grapefruit League start) to pitch in a minor-league spring game to continue stretching out before joining the Braves’ starting rotation.
It’s going to be weird for Wright not to be with the rest of his teammates on the 26-man opening-day roster.
“Yeah, it will be, for sure, because that’s where I want to be,” he said Friday. “Opening day, it’s so cool and so special. The next closest thing to a postseason game is opening day, opening weekend – at least in my opinion, just as far as atmosphere and everything. It’ll definitely suck that I’ll miss it. But I’m gonna try to get there as fast as possible just to get back with the team and start to get back on that normal schedule and start the season.”
To be clear: Wright expects to be on the Braves’ opening-day roster. He just won’t be there physically for opening day, if his current plan remains unchanged.
Wright will start in Fort Myers against the Twins in a split-squad Saturday. If he’s on a five-day schedule, as is typical for starters, he would pitch in that minor-league game Thursday, when his teammates will open the regular season in Washington.
Wright would then travel to join the Braves and would be lined up to start one of the games in St. Louis on April 3-5.
“In a perfect world, everything goes good, that’s where I expect to be,” he said. “You never know what could happen, but yeah, I expect to be ready to go, for sure.”
Wright said he expects to be “close to” fully stretched out. He said he expects to be able to throw somewhere between 75 to 85 pitches when he makes his regular-season debut, though he added that, ideally, he would throw more than 85 and save the bullpen.
Even now, Wright is expected for the regular season after being behind all spring because of the cortisone injection he received in his shoulder in January.
“Doing the whole rehab stuff is not fun,” Wright said. “I don’t like to feel like I’m doing my own thing, separate from the team. I’ve been back in the team and everything, but still having my own plan and everything still, (I’m) ready for that to be over with and just kind of get back the team, compete full on. It’s important steps you got to take to make sure you’re ready, but I’m ready for it to be over with, for sure.”
Saturday will be Wright’s second start in a big-league game this spring. He will use that, and the outing in the minor-league spring contest, to continue knocking off the rust.
“With as many baseballs as we’ve thrown in our life, you would think it should just be, ‘You’re good to go.’ But unfortunately, it’s not the case,” Wright said. “For me, the more I can kind of get off the mound, start getting those reps back, was a big thing. I give a lot of credit to the training staff for doing things the right way. When I first got in, I wanted to go quicker, and they said no, just take your time.”
Wright experienced a breakout season in 2022. He led the majors with 21 wins. He posted a 3.19 ERA.
Finally, he can feel settled – even if he’ll never be complacent – at the big-league level. The Braves view him as a big part of their team.
Wright simply is looking forward to finishing his buildup in spring training before joining the Braves’ rotation.
“You just want to compete, you want to be with the team,” Wright said. “It’s not fun being hurt. Fortunately I’ve never missed any time – knock on wood – due to injury, so I don’t want to start now. This alone has been enough to say, ‘Yeah, let’s try to keep this thing healthy and not miss any games.’”
Michael Harris II and Eddie Rosario were scratched from the lineup for Friday night’s game in Fort Myers versus the Red Sox.
The Braves said Harris was removed because of back tightness. Rosario felt lower back tightness, the team said.
The Braves said the scratches were precautionary measures.
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
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