FORT MYERS, Fla. — Steven Wright can’t say much about what happened in his Tennessee home on the night of Dec. 8 until he speaks with investigators from Major League Baseball.
But there is something the 33-year-old pitcher wants Boston Red Sox fans — everybody, really — to know.
“I never touched her,” Wright said Wednesday.
Speaking after Red Sox pitchers and catchers completed their first workout of spring training, Wright said he never made physical contact with his wife, Shannon, on the night he was arrested at his home and charged with domestic assault and preventing a 911 call, both misdemeanors in Tennessee. A few weeks later, Williamson County court retired the case, which will be dropped if additional offenses don’t occur within the next year.
Wright said he and his wife have been going to counseling. But the joint agreement between MLB and its players allows the commissioner’s office to conduct an independent investigation. Neither Wright nor the Red Sox has been given a timetable for when the investigation will be completed, but Wright expects to speak to MLB officials within the next few weeks.
“When it comes out, you obviously think of the worst,” Wright said. “But it wasn’t that bad, especially on a personal level, especially because I never touched her. That’s probably the hardest thing, for me to sit there and see people talk about being a wife-beater and all that stuff and I didn’t even make physical contact.
“I respect pretty much everyone around me. That’s kind of how I grew up. That’s the thing — it’s life. Things happen. Sometimes it’s unfortunate, but when you’re in the limelight like we are, things get magnified. It’s been a humbling experience. There are some things personally that I’ve got to work on, that can help not only in my relationship with my wife and my family but in baseball and life, in general.”
Wright, a right-hander who was nearly out of baseball until he began throwing a knuckleball in 2011 with the Cleveland Indians organization, had a breakthrough 2016 season in which he went 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA and made the All-Star team. But he missed most of last season after having cartilage restoration surgery in his left knee.
The Red Sox expect Wright to be ready either for the start of the season or shortly thereafter, unless MLB changes those plans. And there is precedent for Wright to receive at least some form of punishment.
In 2016, MLB suspended New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman for 30 games at the start for the season for allegedly choking his girlfriend, while New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia got a 15-game ban and then-Tampa Bay Rays catcher Derek Norris received a one-month suspension last year for domestic violence-related incidents.
“It definitely got escalated in that one particular night,” Wright said. “We’ve been going to counseling. We’ve been working through it. We’ve been trying to do as much as we can to put it past us. But it’s hard, because MLB is doing their investigation and it’s in the limelight. It’s really hard on a personal level to get past something that’s constantly being thrown at you. But I did it to myself. It’s one of those things that I’ve got to live with the consequences that came from my actions that night.
“I’m looking forward to telling that side of the story because people will understand a little bit more about what happened. It’s not what you’re reading as far as you hear about domestic violence.”