SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After making one start last April, Jamey Wright spent the next two months on the disabled list, enduring a 16.88 ERA lingering beside his name as he worked himself back into competitive form. Wright got better with every month back in uniform, making three starts with a 4.60 ERA in June, posting a 3.13 ERA in four July starts and earning marks of 3.00 and 2.18 in August and September, respectively, making one start in August before seeing the rest of his action out of the Texas bullpen. Before last season, all but 25 of his 260 games pitched had been as a starter, but he is approaching 2008 with the mind-set of a reliever.
"Last year was different, getting that bullpen role," he said Monday after pitching two scoreless innings of relief in the Rangers' extra-inning win over the Giants. "I finally accepted it and said, 'This is what it's going to be. I want to learn to be good at it. I want to learn to go out there and pitch well in that role.' "I'm not a guy that wants to just hang around. I want to pitch for a long time. I love to pitch, I love to compete. If this is what it's going to be, out of the bullpen, I need to learn to do it the right way and be successful at it. Last year, I felt a kind of a quiet confidence, knowing that whenever I came into a game, I felt like I was going to do really well. I'm just trying to carry that over to this spring and hopefully the beginning of the season." Wright has pitched three scoreless Cactus League innings, and manager Ron Washington is already impressed with the transition Wright is making to a full-time relief role. "He's been excellent," Washington said after Wright's second relief appearance Monday. "Maybe he found what he's good at. He certainly saved us coming out of the bullpen last year, and hopefully he'll just continue it." While starting pitchers often spend their early starts isolating a particular element of their game to work on, Wright is focused on finding a comfort level out of the 'pen, trading the five-day cycle of the starter for the ready-on-the-fly nature of the reliever. "I'm practicing coming out of the bullpen," he said, explaining his focus Monday. "The main thing is just trying to find my routine and get consistent with coming out there and feeling the same way every time. And learning how to work quick and get guys out when I feel like I don't have my best stuff." Strange game: Wright's entrance to the game in the second inning restored a semblance of normalcy after an unusual first inning. Giants starter Noah Lowery faced 10 hitters in the first inning, going through the entire lineup once before the Rangers could record an official at-bat. He walked the first five batters, then alternated two sacrifice flies with two more walks before finally getting an inning-ending fly to right.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.