Dodgers pitcher Jamey Wright calls it a career, and a quirky career it was

Dodgers pitcher Jamey Wright poses for a portrait during spring training on Feb. 27. Wright announced his retirement on March 28.

Dodgers pitcher Jamey Wright poses for a portrait during spring training on Feb. 27. Wright announced his retirement on March 28.

(Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

Jamey Wright stood near his locker as he prepared to exit the Dodgers clubhouse for the final time as a player. Nearby sat a Home Depot box filled with the belongings he brought to spring training. A career that began as a first-round draft pick in 1993 was coming to an end.

“It’s time, and I know it,” Wright said.

After 19 major league seasons with 10 teams, Wright announced his retirement Monday afternoon after he learned he would not make the Dodgers’ opening-day roster. He had been a longshot to make the club, but at 41 Wright was compelled to try one more spring.

His was among the quirkier careers in recent history. Wright is one of only 10 pitchers ever to start 200 games and relieve in 400 others. His career spanned generations: He gave up his first home run, in 1996, to Ken Caminiti, and his last, in 2014, to Lucas Duda. He had a career record of 97-130 with a 4.81 earned-run average, yet he endured, year after year.


Wright sat out 2015 after Texas released him shortly before opening day. For eight consecutive seasons, from 2005 to 2013, he’d made a team each spring as a nonroster invitee.

“The reason I did it was because I loved the game, and I loved to be on that mound,” Wright said. “I wish any baseball fan, any baseball lover, got the opportunity to be on that mound and know what it feels like to stand in front of 50,000 people. I’m starting to cry. Because I loved it that much. I loved it that much.”

Wright informed Manager Dave Roberts of his decision Sunday. Roberts gave Wright the chance to address the team Monday.

“It was a great message,” Roberts said. “And it was received really well.”

Bill Plaschke and Lindsey Thiry discuss the upcoming Dodgers season from spring training at Camelback Ranch.

Wright said he would miss the chance to play for Roberts. But he realized in the last few weeks that his concentration on the game had drained.

“Sometimes I’d throw a pitch and I’d ask myself, ‘Was I even looking at the glove when I threw that pitch?”’ he said. “My focus and everything has been somewhere else.”

He added, “It was kind of like one of those movies where you keep seeing flashes of the last 20, 30 years pop up. Different experiences, different people, different stadiums, different times on the mound.”

Wright did not rule out a future in coaching or some other aspect of the game. But he knew his immediate destination: his home near Dallas.

“My plan is to go home and be involved with my family,” Wright said. “I’ve got three beautiful children. I wasn’t a very good baseball player, but I’ve got a Hall of Fame wife. She’s the greatest. So back to daddy duty right now, and we’ll figure it out from there.”

Freeway closure

Neither catcher Yasmani Grandal (forearm inflammation) nor second baseman Howie Kendrick (calf tightness) will travel with the team for the start of the Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. Both could start the season on the disabled list.

Kendrick remained idle Monday, and it’s likely he’ll only be allowed to receive treatment Tuesday, Roberts said.

Grandal was cleared to swing a bat without making contact Monday. He also threw while catching a bullpen session of Scott Kazmir.

Seager on the mend

Corey Seager (knee sprain) played six innings in a minor league game Monday. He will play again with minor leaguers Tuesday. Roberts expected Seager to be ready to rejoin the big league club by this weekend.

Ryu nearly ready to go live

Slowed all spring as he recovered from shoulder surgery, left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu could begin throwing live batting practice next week. Roberts said the team had not determined whether Ryu would travel with the team to Los Angeles or remain in Arizona for extended spring training.

A starting pitcher usually enters spring training built up to be able to handle a session of live batting practice. That would suggest Ryu is six weeks or so from being ready to contribute at the major league level. But the Dodgers are reticent to attach a definitive timetable to his return, given the fickle nature of shoulder surgery recovery.

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes