Buchholz working on the mental game
Nobody has ever questioned the gift that Clay Buchholz has in his right arm, from the mid 90s fastball to that sweeping curveball to the changeup that freezes hitters. But obviously something led to his 2-9 record and 6.75 ERA last year, during his stints in the Major Leagues. It was the mental side, which Buchholz acknowledged in a session with the media on Thursday, official reporting day here at Spring Training.
“You live and learn, and I learned a lot from last year,” Buchholz said. “It’s definitely
mental. Physically I worked pretty hard this offseason, throwing a lot more. I
feel like I’m in better shape. The mental side of it, I’ve always heard, it’s
90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. I know have the athletic ability to
do it but if you don’t have the right frame of mind to go about it, I don’t
think you’ll succeed so that was a big part of it this offseason.”
To get a handle on the mental aspect, Buchholz met with former Major Leaguer Bob Tewksbury, who is the sports psychology coach for the Red Sox.
had a couple of meetings with Mr. Tewksbury, and he just helped me on some
little things to go out there and think about,” Buchholz said. “If you have negative thoughts
going through your head when you’re on the mound during a game, you sort of
have to step off the mound, take a breath and try to make a pitch instead of
worrying about the next batter the inning before. That was my deal last year.”
What will Buchholz’s deal be this year? The Red Sox have Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield and Brad Penny slated for the rotation and John Smoltz pegged for a spot once he is given medical clearance.
Buchholz isn’t thinking about that right now. He’s just thinking about getting his own game back on track. Last year was an utter nightmare. It’s hard to forget the sight of Buchholz just completely losing it at Camden Yards that night in August in what proved to be his final Major League start of the season. From there, he went to Double-A, and then to the Arizona Fall League. This from the kid who tossed a no-hitter the previous September.
“I’d get in a jam last year and I’d try to make a pitch perfect instead of just
making a pitch and that’s where I got behind in the count all of last year.
that was exactly my mindset in the bullpen that I just threw. Really easy and
try to hit the third of the plate, instead of right on the black, and that’s how
I’m going to go about it.”
In other news, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield held court with the media this morning and expressed optimism about working with Josh Bard again.
said that three years ago that I never had somebody work as hard as he did to
try to catch me and do the right things,” Wakefield said. “He was truly a professional — his attitude
and his preparation for the way he went about his work and I look forward to
working with him again.”
Theo Epstein and Terry Francona will do their annual opening of camp address to the media at noon. It won’t be the same this year without the annual question of asking whether Manny is expected to arrive in camp on time.
Lastly, please e-mail me a few more questions at email@example.com. I’m hoping to post an in-box — formerly known as mailbag — by tomorrow.
All for now.