06/26/2002 11:57 pm ET
Difficult day for Brewers' Wright
By Jared Hoffman / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- It was a tough day for Brewers starting pitcher Jamey Wright on Wednesday, and it had nothing to with his pitching line in a 5-2 loss to the Cardinals.
A trip to St. Louis normally meant Wright had a chance to catch up with his close friend, Darryl Kile. This trip, however, meant attending a memorial service at Busch Stadium for Kile, who died this past Saturday at the age of 33.
"It's tough to be here, but it's tough for everybody right now," Wright said. "Guys like [Craig] Biggio and [Jeff] Bagwell and [Brad] Ausmus and guys that played with him for seven years in Houston and then the Cardinals -- I don't know how they're doing it. As sad as we are, he touched so many guys around baseball. There's a lot of sadness."
Wright played with Kile for two seasons in Colorado, and those two seasons resulted in a close friendship and in Wright becoming a better pitcher.
"He was such a generous person to everybody," Wright said. "I mean, being a young pitcher in Colorado, he helped us out so much -- almost teaching us how to be a professional. He was a professional in every sense of the word. Working with us in between starts, giving us tips, giving us advice."
One of those bits of advice helped Wright develop one of his better pitches.
"In the middle of the 1998 season when my slider was terrible in Coors Field, he told me to throw my curveball," said Wright. "That's one of my best pitches now."
Just a few hours after attending the memorial service for Kile, Wright was on the mound for the Brewers at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals didn't hit him hard -- all nine of their hits were singles and some were of the seeing-eye variety -- but they scored five runs in the first three innings. Wright pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth, but the damage was already done.
In the toughest of circumstances, Wright didn't offer any excuses.
"It was tough on everybody, but you still have to go out there and perform, and I didn't do a very good job of it today," Wright said after the game. "On top of everything else, I go out and give them a 5-0 lead by the third inning. You're not going to win too many games doing that."
Wright has now lost his last five decisions and has pitched five innings or less in three of his past five starts. Brewers manager Jerry Royster thought Wright pitched OK considering the circumstances, but emphasized the Brewers need him to go deeper in games.
"Jamey has had some starts like this lately," Royster said. "Just giving up too many runs. Instead of giving up one run, he's giving up two or three in an inning and it's really been a killer. It has gotten his innings down to practically nothing.
"We need him to be out there for seven innings every time he goes out there. We're looking for at least seven innings from him and he's been giving us four, possibly five, and that's just not good enough."
Royster believes part of Wright's troubles have stemmed from getting away from his best stuff when he falls behind in the count.
"You can't pitch without command," Royster said. "If you go ball one, ball two and start giving in, you're going to get pounded in this league."
Royster also said when Wright falls behind in the count, he sometimes gets away from his best pitch -- his slider -- and throws more four-seam fastballs.
"He needs to induce contact and do it early in the count," Royster said.
One thing that was obvious Wednesday was that Wright is still taking things he learned from Kile and applying them to his game -- even in a 5-2 loss.
"Darryl told me a lot of things," Wright said. "But one thing that really sticks out is that no matter what happens in this game on the field, whether you've had a great game or you've struggled, always walk off the field with your head up -- don't ever hang your head."
On Wednesday, Wright struggled, but he walked off the field with his head up.
Jared Hoffman is an editorial producer for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.