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Wright solidifying case in camp

Wright looking like a winner in camp

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Most of the focus of the Astros' Spring Training has been on the pitching, or lack thereof, but in the midst of the doom and gloom, a couple of good stories have emerged. The best one might be Wesley Wright, who has positioned himself to nab a spot in the bullpen after putting together a sterling spring.

For Rule 5 draftees, the odds are heavily stacked against them when Spring Training begins. They're taken by clubs at the Winter Meetings with a what-do-we-have-to-lose attitude -- give him a look and you might get lucky. If he doesn't pan out, it costs you only $25,000 to give him back to his original club.

Wright was one of three lefties auditioning for a job this spring, but with just over a week left in exhibition play, he appears to be at an advantage. Mark McLemore and Stephen Randolph were sent packing after the most recent round of cuts, leaving Wright as the lone lefty still in the mix.

"We saw him in the mini-camp and thought he'd be somebody who can possibly help us," manager Cecil Cooper said, referring to the Elite Camp held at Minute Maid Park in January. "We like the arm, great arm. He's just a young guy and needed to pitch a little bit."

Wright, who spent five years in the Dodgers organization prior to the Rule 5 Draft, gave up two hits and a run in his first spring appearance on Feb. 28, but since then, he's allowed just one run -- unearned -- over six outings. The left-hander admitted he was nervous in the beginning but gained confidence with each trip to the mound.

"At first, I just wanted to get used to being in big league camp and facing big league hitters," Wright said. "I was kind of a little nervous. I wanted to make a good impression early on and try to stick around a little while.

"After I got a couple outings under my belt, I started to relax little bit more and started to concentrate on more pitching things, rather than other situations like [being a] Rule 5 [Draft pick]."

Cooper continues to gush about the young lefty, who just happens to be one of the few pitchers who has thrown strikes consistently through the spring. Because Rule 5 guidelines dictate that any player who does not make the team out of Spring Training must be offered back to his original club, it's likely the Astros will take a chance and hold on to Wright.

"He just started out this spring as one of the guys, and he slowly progressed to where he's just bubbling with confidence," Cooper said. "He's throwing the ball in the strike zone. I see a lively fastball. He's going right after hitters."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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