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Wright looks to make it two in a row

Wright looks to make it two in a row

Jamey Wright knew he left spring camp having made the Texas Rangers' team. He could recall the meeting where manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mark Connor told him so.

It was just difficult, at times, for that memory to stay vivid while Wright spent the first nine days of the season adrift in roster purgatory.

"This is the first time I've ever had to watch so long before I had a chance to do anything about it," Wright said. "But, it is what it is."

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Such is the lot for the No. 5 man in the rotation of a team that doesn't need a fifth starter for much of April. Because of how the Rangers' scheduled days off fell this month, Wright's season began with a four-inning start last week at Double-A Frisco to keep sharp, followed by more waiting for his contract to officially be purchased by the Rangers.

But if every dog has his day, Wright finally has his night. The right-hander will pitch for his sixth big-league team Tuesday evening when the Rangers take on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"I'm anxious to get it going," Wright said. "It's been tough to sit there and watch all these games without getting a chance to get in there and participate. I'm excited about getting back out there."

The Rangers will make a move Tuesday to clear a roster spot for Wright. Left-hander Bruce Chen, who has pitched just two of the team's first 60 innings, is expected to be designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A Oklahoma if he clears waivers. Right-hander Mike Wood, who has pitched only one inning thus far, also has options remaining and could be demoted to make room.

Wright, 32, embodies the journeyman label as he opens his 12th big-league campaign. The former first-round pick of Colorado (1993) is coming off his first and only season with the San Francisco Giants, having gone 6-10 with a 5.19 ERA in 34 games (21 starts). Wright's career numbers include a 67-98 record and 5.14 ERA.

Fans and local media were skeptical of the club's decision to award the fifth starter's job to Wright instead of to Kameron Loe, the 25-year-old right-hander who outpitched everyone in the team's spring camp in Surprise, Ariz. Wright compiled a 5.82 ERA in 17 spring innings, to Loe's 0.92 mark over 19 2/3 exhibition innings. Yet it was Loe who was dispatched to the bullpen when the season began.

General manager Jon Daniels said keeping Wright made the most sense for the Rangers in the long run. Loe has worked as a reliever in 44 of his 68 appearances, while Wright has been employed almost exclusively as a starter (237 of 260 appearances in 11 seasons). History has shown the Rangers rarely have the luxury of considering an experienced veteran starter as a surplus part.

Wright likely won't start again until April 21 against Oakland. But Washington doesn't want Wright trying to justify the team's faith in him by pressing in his few April starts.

"He's already impressed me," Washington said. "He already did that in the spring, that's why he's the No. 5 starter. And if he just goes out there and pitches his game, he's going to impress everybody."

Now that the opportunity is finally here, Wright said he is ready.

"I understand my role," he said. "And now it's time for me to get out there and contribute and do my job. I feel good, I'm throwing strikes, and I'm just going to go out there and challenge guys with my best stuff. I'm anxious to get it going."

Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Jamey Wright (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Wright has made eight April starts over the past three seasons, emerging with a 3-3 record and 4.89 ERA for those outings. In those 53 1/3 innings, he has allowed eight home runs and walked 24, while striking out 25. He will be facing Tampa Bay for the first time in his career.

TB: RHP Jae Seo (0-0, 7.11 ERA)
The 29-year-old South Korean right-hander had no decision in a rough season debut April 5 at Yankee Stadium. Seo gave up five runs on 11 hits in 6 1/3 innings against New York, but wriggled off the hook when the Rays rallied for a 7-6 victory. He won his only career start against Texas in June 2003, allowing two runs on eight hits over seven innings.

Player to watch
Devil Rays right fielder Delmon Young doesn't have the hype of Boston pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, but he could be every much his equal as an American League Rookie of the Year candidate. The first overall pick of the 2003 draft, Young has hit safely in all six games this year and already has 16 multi-hit games in his first 36 big-league starts dating to last season.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN Southwest

On radio
• 1080 KRLD AM, 1270 KFLC AM (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Devil Rays (RHP James Shields, 0-0, 4.05) at Rangers (RHP Robinson Tejeda, 1-0, 0.00), 7:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Off
• Friday: Rangers (RHP Kevin Millwood, 1-1, 4.91) at Mariners (Miguel Batista, 0-1, 15.43), 9:05 p.m. CT

Ken Daley is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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