Legends On Deck

Spring Training And “The Children’s Game”


Image Source: MLB.com

There is a flashback scene in Bennett Miller’s fine film Moneyball in which a New York Mets scout tells a teenage Billy Beane: “We are all told at some point in time, Billy, we can no longer play the children’s game. We just don’t know when that’s going to be. Some of us are told at 18, some of us are told at 40 – but we’re all told.”

If most ball players are told by age 40 that it is time to hang up the spikes, a few do not get the memo. Saturday night (March 12, 2016), 41-year old Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Jamey Wright entered the 8th inning of a split-squad Spring Training game against the Chicago Cubs. In an unremarkable outing, Wright pitched one inning, yielding two hits and two earned runs, while striking out one of the seven batters he faced, all of whom were pre-teen children when Wright broke into the Majors.

This is just one of the poignant everyday dramas of Spring Training. Baseball is a young man’s game these days but still there can be found the veterans like Wright, with long and productive careers behind them, testing themselves to see how much baseball they have left.

The Dodgers signed the six-foot-six right-hander to a minor league contract after pitchers and catchers reported In February. He is assigned to Oklahoma City in the Pacific Coast League (AAA) with an invitation to big league camp. Thus far in Spring Training Wright has thrown just 3.1 innings (MLB, March 13, 2016).

Wright is a year removed from Major League Baseball. Last year he signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers in February and the club released him at the end of March, 2015. According to dodgersdigest.com, Wright took 2015 off and spent time working out with Clayton Kershaw. In his 19-year career Wright has worked as a starter and a reliever, posting a career line of 78 wins and 133 losses with a 4.81 ERA. He has logged 2,036.2 innings pitched while playing for nine MLB teams.

The odds are against the 41 year old Dodger joining the same over forty fraternity as Bartolo Colon, but the fire in Wright’s belly evidently still burns. Let’s wish all professional ballplayers like Jamey Wright good luck on their 2016 journeys, wherever they may take them.

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