By PAUL SINGER, Associated Press Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) - Indians right-hander Jaret Wright, once a rookie sensation, is trying for the second year in a row to come back from shoulder surgery.
Wright (pictured, right) has begun throwing on the side at the same rate as other Cleveland pitchers, and said Wednesday he expects to compete this spring for a spot in the starting rotation.
"I've watched a lot of games on TV the last couple years and I want to be on TV again instead of watching," Wright said.
Wright had a second surgery on his shoulder in September. Doctors had to shave his collar bone to prevent rubbing against other bones in his shoulder, a procedure Wright said was unusual, but not unique.
"They took out some bone, took out some meat, sewed me up and said it was good," Wright said.
After a promising start to his career, the 26-year-old Wright has been on the disabled list six times since July 1999, all because of shoulder problems.
Wright was first called up in 1997 and helped the Indians win the AL pennant. He went 8-3 in 16 starts and became the second youngest pitcher in history to start the seventh game of a World Series.
Wright won 12 games for the Indians in 1998, but has just 13 victories in the three seasons since.
Wright had shoulder surgery in August 2000, followed by off-season rehab, extended spring training, and three rehab starts in the minors. He then went 2-2 with a 6.52 ERA in seven starts for the Indians in 2001, but was optioned back to Triple-A Buffalo on June 22, and was put on the disabled list there in August.
Pitching coach Mike Brown said both Wright and Charles Nagy, whose 2001 season was cut short in August because of pain in his surgically repaired right elbow, will be given a chance to make a comeback.
"They are going to get the opportunity to get back their job," Brown said. "I think we owe that to them as an organization."
Brown said Wright may pitch out of the bullpen if he needs more time to get his strength back.
Wright said he is preparing to return to the starting rotation.
"Being a starter, I have developed the mentality to start, and its something I want to do again," he said. "If things are going well and my shoulder feels good, that's where I would like to be. If I'm not where people want me to be -- and I'll feel that inside if I'm not there -- then the bullpen is an option to build that up and get that back. But for me, I'm a starting pitcher, and that's what I want to do."
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)