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Wright out to rebound

After setting dubious MLB mark, demotion to Double-A, he seeks a big year at SWB.

Left-hander Chase Wright says if he can stay healthy, he’s confident about having a strong season pitching in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s rotation.

Don Carey/the times leader

TAMPA, Fla. — Even though left-hander Chase Wright was an eight-game winner for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, he’s anxious to put the 2007 season behind him.

The 25-year-old left-hander had a couple of traumatic experiences that overshadowed the good numbers that he put up.

First, of course, was that fateful night last April at Fenway Park when Wright etched his named into the major-league record books when he gave up four consecutive home runs in a Yankee loss to the Boston Red Sox.

And then in late July, despite posting an 8-3 record for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Wright was demoted to Double-A Trenton after young guns Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy were promoted to Triple-A.

“It definitely was an interesting season,” said Wright, who is having an outstanding spring training and is expected to begin the 2008 campaign near the top of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre rotation. “There were some disappointments, including the Boston game, but I feel great and I’m confident I’m going to have a good year.”

Wright is well aware that what happened in Boston is not going to be soon forgotten. That’s something he found out during the offseason when he returned home to Wichita Falls, Texas.

“I was reminded about it just about every day by my friends back home,” said Wright. “Most of it was good-natured kidding, fortunately.”

The Boston game is still fresh in Wright’s mind. His biggest regret is giving up the home run to J.D. Drew.

“He came to bat after Manny (Ramirez)’s home run,” Wright said. “I had a 2-2 count on J.D. and I was trying to get him out with a breaking ball. But I hung it out over the plate and he took advantage of it.”

Wright also blames himself for his July demotion to Trenton.

“I had a lot of wins, but I was having difficulty with my control,” said Wright, who issued 42 walks in 85 1/3 innings. “You just can’t afford to have that kind of walk ratio.”

Wright stayed in condition with a rigid offseason workout program and says he’s in the best shape of his life. He spent the first three weeks of spring training in big league camp, which proved to be a confidence booster.

“It was great being around the Yankee veterans again – especially Andy Pettitte,” said Wright. “He was also a great help to me in 2002 when we were in extended spring training together.

“Andy was the first big-league player to work with me one-on-one. It was great to see him again and pick his brain.”

While in big-league camp, Wright also received some tutelage from New York pitching coach Dave Eiland, who was his pitching coach at Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

One of Wright’s top priorities in spring training is to fine-tune has breaking ball.

“I want to be able to us it as my ‘out’ pitch,” he said. “I want to throw it with confidence when the count is 3-2.”

He also has another important goal.

“Deep down, I’m a fierce competitor,” Wright said. “I would love to have a chance to go back to Fenway Park and pitch against the Red Sox again. I take great pride in wearing the Yankee pinstripes.”

Meanwhile, Wright isn’t look past Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“I’m confident of having a great year. If I’m healthy, everything else will take care of itself.”

Notes: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre pitcher Steven Jackson continued to make his case for a spot in the Triple-A rotation, as he pitched three innings of one-hit ball against Durham on Saturday.

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