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Jaret Wright Is Injured in Class-A All-Star Game

Baseball: Former Katella pitcher hit by practice swing before California-Carolina League contest.

June 21, 1996|DAVE McKIBBEN

Former Katella High pitcher Jaret Wright is recovering at home after suffering a broken jaw in a freak accident before the California-Carolina League All-Star game Tuesday night in Rancho Cucamonga.

Wright, Cleveland's No. 1 pick in the 1994 draft, was injured when he walked into a practice swing by Durham Bulls' player Ron Wright. Wright had surgery Wednesday morning at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. The surgery was performed by Mighty Ducks' oral surgeon Jeff Pulver. Wright was released Thursday morning.

Wright's mother, Vicky, said her son had a plate placed in his cheek to mend one of the breaks and he will have his mouth wired shut for three to four weeks.

"We're experimenting with liquefied food," Vicky Wright said. "Cream of Wheat has a little bit of consistency to it. Outside of being a little bummed that he has to be here, he's doing well."

Wright, 20, had been having the best season of his professional career with Kinston of the Class-A Carolina League. He was 4-4 with a 2.53 ERA and 76 strikeouts and 43 walks in 67 2/3 innings.

"It's a just a complete and total freak accident that couldn't have been controlled," said Mark Shapiro, Indians' director of minor league operations. "There were a lot of players unfamiliar with each others' movements because it was an All-Star game and they were out of their element."

Wright was prepared to pitch Tuesday night in the All-Star game at the Epicenter.

"It was certainly so disappointing for Jaret," his mother said. "He wanted to play before his friends and his hometown. He said to me [Wednesday], 'Why?' But I told him that things happen in life, you deal with them best you can."

Vicky Wright said doctors told Jaret he can swim and ride a stationary bike but that he cannot begin throwing until the wires are removed from his cheek.

Shapiro said the Indians aren't expecting Wright back on the mound for six to eight weeks.

"I would find that unlikely that he'll be out for the season," Shapiro said. "We're hoping he'll return to throwing for four more starts."

Shapiro said this injury doesn't change the team's timetable for Wright, who was selected The Times Orange County player of the year in 1994.

"This represents a minor setback," Shapiro said. "In no way does this interfere with anything he'll do at the major league level. We'll just have to find a creative way to get him extra innings this year either in Arizona or Hawaii. The most positive thing in all of this is we didn't get a call that he hurt his arm or shoulder."

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