Buchholz and crisis management; Pap breaks out slider
While the star of the day was top prospect Daniel Bard and his 100-mph fastball (I’m not sure poor Mike Aviles ever saw it), Clay Buchholz and Jonathan Papelbon also had interesting outings against Puerto Rico.
Buchholz got into jams in both of his innings, and got out of them. This is significant because this is the same type of thing that would just sink him last year, be it in Spring Training or the regular season.
“First inning, two
guys on, nobody out. Last year, it would have just snowballed and there would
have maybe been three runs at the least,” Buchholz said. “My thought process was alright, make a
pitch right here, get a groundball. I struck somebody out and then pop fly,
nobody advances. Last guy I struck out. That first inning made me go in the
dugout and just take a deep breath and say, OK, once again, I’ve been in that
position and I knew how to do it more [now].
“And second inning, right off the
bat, bases loaded, nobody out. From then on, my mindset was minimize and get a
groundball or get a flyball and I came out lucky and got a double play and then
ended up getting out of it with just one run.”
As for Papelbon, he is making a concerted effort to integrate the slider into his mix this season. Of course, Papelbon already has that lethal fastball and split, but the slider can give him a new wrinkle.
Papelbon said he hasn’t thrown it much since converting to reliever for good in 2006.
“Today, I felt
like I wanted to go out there and throw my slider more and I was able to do
that well,” Papelbon said. “Just because,
for me, I feel like it’s time to kind of give those hitters something else to
look at. For me, adding another pitch will just, I feel like, make me better. I
felt really good today and I’m really pleased about it.”