Before their 6-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Friday night, the White Sox vowed to treat Dan Wright like any other member of their rotation.
Sure, the 25-year-old right-hander was making his first start of the season Friday night after overcoming a strained muscle in his right elbow.
But the Sox didn't see a need for special attention--or a double-digit pitch count.
"We've given him a lot of time [to recover]," Sox manager Jerry Manuel said, "so I'm treating it like any other game. We have a pitch limit on everybody, but his is not reduced to any significance. There are no restrictions or reservations."
Said pitching coach Don Cooper: "He's ready to go."
That might have been the case, but the Mariners were also ready for him.
Wright lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on six hits. He struggled with his control, issuing four walks while striking out only one.
Of his 76 pitches, only 34 were strikes.
Wright nearly got knocked out in the third after giving up back-to-back singles, two walks and a two-run single to John Olerud.
But with two outs and the bases loaded, Wright induced a flyout from Randy Winn.
Wright fired a 1-2-3 fourth inning but got roughed up in the fifth. Manuel removed him after two hits and a one-out walk to Olerud.
Gary Glover then gave up an RBI double to Mike Cameron before recording the inning's final two outs. By then the Mariners led 4-2.
Carlos Guillen had three hits and two RBIs for Seattle.
Jose Valentin hit a two-run homer in the first inning for the Sox.
After going 14-12 with a 5.18 ERA last season, Wright was expected to compete with Jon Garland for the No. 3 spot in the Sox's rotation.
But those plans were derailed when Wright complained of a sore elbow after his spring-training debut Feb. 28. The Sox shut him down for nearly two weeks, hoping that rest would be the cure. He threw impressively during a spring-training game March 24 against Colorado but didn't recover well.
With the season about to begin, Wright grew concerned that his injury might be more serious than originally believed.
He sought opinions from several doctors, including James Andrews, who assured him that his ligament was intact. That diagnosis helped Wright clear the mental hurdle of wondering whether firing a fastball would result in his needing surgery.
Wright fared well during a rehabilitation stint at Triple-A Charlotte. He posted a 3.38 ERA in four outings, striking out 16 while walking four.
"I felt like it got better every time out," Wright said.
That gave him confidence heading into Friday's game, despite the difficult environment.
Not only had the Mariners outscored the Sox 26-5 during a three-game sweep on the South Side last weekend, the Sox entered just 2-7 at Safeco Field over the last two seasons. At least Wright had performed well at Safeco in the past, posting a 2.63 ERA in two starts.
"It's a good park to play in," Wright said before taking the mound. "It's going to be fun again."
Not as much fun as he would have liked.