Results tagged ‘ Clay Buchholz ’
Jon Lester might have had a down year in 2012, but the Red Sox still view him as an ace. And that’s why the lefty will take the ball at Yankee Stadium on Monday for Opening Day.
After weeks of speculation, manager John Farrell finally made it official on Wednesday morning. Lester will be Boston’s first pitcher out of the gate for the third consecutive season.
The news was revealed just hours before Lester got ready to make his final start of Spring Training against the Miami Marlins.
“The way he was lined up, he was probably targeted all along,” said Farrell. “At the same time, we didn’t want that to be a focal point. His work that was needed and the adjustments that he’s continued to reinforce and repeat on the mound were the priorities. We felt like it was important to focus on the needs of Spring Training for every pitcher, including Jon, before we got into the rotation [order].”
In his first five starts of Grapefruit League action, Lester went 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA, looking a lot more like the pitcher who dominated in 2008-11 than the one who stumbled last year.
“He’s gotten back to a delivery that was similar to what he had in the past,” Farrell said. “I think he’s executing pitches with the consistency we saw before that made him one of the top left-handers in the game. He’s had a very strong Spring Training. “
Right-handers Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster will follow Lester in New York, pitching Wednesday and Thursday respectively. Left-hander Felix Doubront and righty John Lackey will round out the rotation, pitching the first two games in Toronto.
Buchholz is on tap to pitch the Home Opener on April 8 against the Orioles.
Lester was 9-14 with a 4.82 ERA in 33 starts in 2012.
“I didn’t really like what happened last year as far as me and the way I pitched,” Lester said earlier this spring. “That’s solely on me – that’s not on anyone else, that’s not on the revolving door of pitching coaches, that’s not on our manager, that’s not on anybody but myself. I want to prove that last year was a fluke and it’s not going to happen again.”
John Farrell was the man of the hour on Tuesday, unveiled as the 46th manager in Red Sox history.
Here are some of the many topics he discussed.
Can the Red Sox contend in 2013? “I think a couple of things will need to happen. certain players return to the form and the performance that they’ve established for themselves and not just one-year situation. Guys who have estabilished a cereer path and a career recod of being above average and get the guys back who were taken out because of injury, to get them back fully healthy and then whatever additions are brought forward into this group. I think this has got an opportunity to be a fairly quick turnaournd and get to the point of contending next year.”
Where do thing stand with the coaching staff? “I wouldn’t say were really advanced. I would say we’ve got a number of names who are candidates for the roles that exist. Still determining the coaches who were here last year and will they continue to go forward. We’re probably in the third or fourth inning.”
How critical is the pitching coach hire? “Yeah, I think with any position, I think stablility is critical. I think it’s important to know for the pitching coach to know coming in this isn’t going to be a position, because so much has been brought out with the return here, that it’s not going to be micromanaged. Certainly there’s going to be involvement but that person needs the freedom to do his job and to the best of his ability. That’s why, to me, it’s important to get the most qualified pitching coach available and bring him in here.”
In essence, here was Farrell’s mission statement. “As far as what you can expect on the field, I truly believe that in an uptempo aggressive style of play. It will certainly take into account the strength of our roster. That’s a given. But I think to play that style of game, it does create an attitude, which I think is critical to win at the major league level, and that’s to be relentless. With our effort, with our preparation, with the work and the competitiveness that we take the field every night, that is of the utmost importance of how we play. So for the fans that will watch this team take the field, that’s, in some ways, a non negotiable as far as I look at it. our effort is controlled every night. It’s something we can control.
“And to give forth our best effort is a minimum. As far as dealing with players, I firmly believe that there’s an amount of professionalism that every player who comes to the big leagues and certainly would come to the Red Sox would have. That guides their preparation, their motivation, all those adjectives you can attest to it or attach to it. most importantly, because I’ve been here before, there will be no taking for granted that relationships exist. I will work my butt off to earn their trust, earn their respect and create an environment in that clubhouse that is just that. it’s a trusting that, it will be a learning one, and yes, it will be a competitive one and hopefully a very successful one at the same time. If that’s being described as a player’s manager, then maybe that’s what I am. That’s still forming. I’m still learning.
“But I feel, as I mentioned before, I’m in a much better place today than I was two years ago because of those experiences. And finally, my many conversations over the last few days with Ben, we do have a number of things we’ve got to take care of. First will be the staff to get that in place and that’s ongoing. We’ll have those updates as they become available. Just one note, on probably the attributes and the characteristics of the people that we would like to assemble here – they are guys that are going to be credible. They will have different sets of experiences. But the fact that they will have the players backs and interests in their minds, maybe their guide, will be a criteria that I’ll look to include in every guy that’s added to the staff. I think it’s critical that we work as a unity. There’s the ability to challenge once another and express opinions in that coach’s room and in our offices downstairs, but when we go out, we will be on the same page and working on one voice and I think that’s something that’s important to the overall approach of a club. We’re eager to get started and hit the ground running.”
Changing the culture in the clubhouse? “I can’t speak to what the Red Sox clubhouse was last year. I think it’s important that we communicate consistently to the players, we outline expectations and we have to hold players accountable to what we’re trying to get done. That’s leading people. At the same time, they have to have a voice in this to give their input. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a leader at the head or a rudder to guide the ship. But I think it’s important their inclusion is there. It has to be a positive place that they want to come to every single day.”
Things he learned from Toronto. “There were times where I could have, and this comes from those experiences in Toronto, in my relationship with Alex and the conversations we would have regarding the roster, there might have been opportunities for me to speak a little bit more passionately towards some suggestions or recommendations to the roster. We also introduced and brought in a number of young players. We created a diverse offense that was aggressive. We looked to incorporate a much more aggressive running game. Some of that was overboard and some of that we ran into some outs. Creating that environment and that approach and then putting young players into it, there probably were opportunities where I should have shut them down as far as the Xs and Os of the game. Maybe I would have changed closers a little bit quicker.”
What makes Boston so special? “One, I think Boston is in my mind and it may be debatable across the country, this is the epicenter of the game. To come in and have at least four years experience previous to, not having sat in this seat, but close to it to see the demands of this position and the passion of this region, the energy that’s in this ballpark every single night. That energy and what people expect holds our players accountable for the effort they put out every single night. Yes, there are some relationships still existing with some of the players here, but by no means will that be taken for granted. There’s familiarity, there’s an understanding maybe of the person I am and who they are, but it’ll be my approach to go back in — and it’s already started with conversations; I had a sitdown with David here earlier today — to start to earn his trust and regain and reestablish all those relationships.”
Helping to restore Lester, Buchholz, etc. “Setting aside Jon’s mention, setting aside Clay’s name, we all recognize how important pitching and particularly starting pitching. You look at every team that has advanced to the postseason, and let’s face it, that’s how we’re going to be measured, not if we get into the postseason, but how deep do we progress into the postseason. And it typically starts and ends with your starting rotation. So that is a priority. Not only with the returning guys, which I think is a very strong, core group, when you consider Jon, when you consider Felix, Clay, the return of John Lackey, that is going to be an important part of that. So there are things across the field .. There was a question before about across the field, what did you see some things differently? Yeah, from a pitching standpoint there were some very obvious things with Jon that he and I have already talked about that you saw with his delivery that he kind of drifted into that might have affected his overall consistency. You can’t underemphasize the importance of a starting rotation.”
On the separation between being a manager and pitching coach. “There’s demands during the day that are going to keep me from going down to the bullpen and working with a pitcher on his side day. Certainly my conversations with the pitching coach, whoever that becomes here, will happen naturally because of my background. That’s what happened in Toronto. It will be no different than a former catcher managing a club and talking to a hitting instructor or positional coach there. I see that dynamic being very comparable. The one thing I will be very clear with the pitchers here prior is that it becomes an open line of communication, and not to bypass that passing coach. There can be no confusion in message. The player is ultimately the one who loses out in that and then we ultimately lose out, because there’s the potential for confusion.
The Red Sox have their hands full. “There’s a list of to-dos, no question. But with the roster that’s there now, there’s a core group there that you can build around. Having a comfort level with Ben and Mike and Brian and BOH and everyone in baseball ops, there’s no communication barriers. There’s no reluctance to give a gut feel or an educated opinion on a given player, on a given combination of things that might currently or what we’re trying to achieve from a roster standpoint. But the game also fosters change, whether it’s through free agency or opportunity. It would be the same if I were able to assemble a coaching staff that would get opportunities elsewhere to become managers. We would champion that. That means we’re getting quality people and putting our players in the best environment to have success as well.
Getting Daniel Bard back on track. “We’ve exchanged a couple of text messages and voice mails. Before getting a chance to talk with him in depth, I couldn’t begin to say what the steps to adjustments might be. But I think we all recognize, it wasn’t too long ago that this might’ve been the best eighth inning reliever in baseball. He’s not injured. That gives you every reason to believe that he might regain that performance ability.”
If the Red Sox seem a little more comfortable in Texas than other road spots, there’s good reason. Their team is surrounded by players who have Texas roots.
Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey all hail from the Lone Star State, as do Scott Atchison, Matt Albers, Kelly Shoppach, Carl Crawford and Will Middlebrooks.
Monday was particularly special for Middlebrooks, who grew up a Rangers fan, living about two and a half hours from Arlington. This was his first Major League game in Arlington, though he played here in high school All-Star Games.
“I remember how hot it was. It was in July before my senior year of high school. I don’t remember much. It was an All-Star game or something,” said Middlebrooks. “I grew up in Texarcarna which is like two hours from here. But I live here in the offseason now. I have a lot of friends here. I came to a lot of games out here. I’m excited to play here. It’s a fun place. When I was a kid, i remember watching Juan Gonzalez, Pudge. Who else was here? Rusty Greer. A-Rod for a little bit.”
Manager Bobby Valentine also has deep roots in Texas, as the Rangers gave him his start in Major League managing from 1985-92. His son still lives here, and Valentine said he has several friends in the Arlington area.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who hit a mammoth home run tonight, played for the Rangers for parts of four seasons before coming to Boston. Adrian Gonzalez played 59 games for the Rangers over two seasons.
FORT MYERS, Fla. –- Clay Buchholz isn’t thinking about his back anymore when he pitches. David Ortiz’s home-run swing looks in midsummer form. Those were just a couple of highlights from Friday night’s game at JetBlue Park.
What went right: Ortiz clocked one over the visitor’s bullpen in right field. Darnell McDonald took two big swings, clearing the Monster with a towering homer and reaching on a double. Michael Bowden, who is out of options, gave manager Bobby Valentine something to think about with a strong inning of work. Buchholz threw some good changeups and curves over his three-inning stint.
What went wrong: Vicente Padilla simply didn’t have it, giving up five hits and four runs over two innings. Padilla is part of the crowded competition trying to win a spot in the rotation or the bullpen.
What they said: “I really like Michael Bowden. His fastball was down in the zone. I’m not sure of the speed because we don’t have guns here. It looked like it was 91, 92. When it was down in the zone he had a good split working off of it. His split, again, from the side, but I have a pretty good perspective of things, I think, it looked like it was a pitch that was very hard to recognize. I liked what I saw. He’s going to get more quality innings, move up in the game a little.” – Bobby Valentine.
What’s next: Working on a transition from the bullpen to the rotation, Daniel Bard makes his second Grapefruit League start in a 7:05 p.m. ET home contest, which will air on MLB.TV, on Saturday against the Rays. Bard tossed two scoreless innings his first time out. Alfredo Aceves, Clay Mortensen, Brandon Duckworth, Matt Albers and Junichi Tazawa are also scheduled to pitch. Righty Wade Davis s the Rays’ scheduled starter.
Injury update: Andrew Bailey (lat strain) has been cleared to make his Grapefruit League debut on Monday. Lefty Andrew Miller (elbow stiffness) will resume throwing on Saturday. Carl Crawford (left wrist) was cleared to start throwing again and should get back on a hitting program within the next couple of days.
FORT MYERS, Fla. –- Break up the Red Sox. They’re off to a 2-0 start in Grapefruit League action, both wins coming against the Twins. All kidding aside, there were a lot of encouraging developments on Monday night.
What went right: Clay Buchholz pitched in a game for the first time since June 16 of last season, and looked healthy in doing so. The righty pitched two shutout innings. Vicente Padilla, trying to nail down a rotation spot, also looked good, wiggling out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam and firing two scoreless innings. Jose Iglesias dropped down a bunt single, stole a base and started a nifty 6-4-3 double play.
What went wrong: Carl Crawford learned earlier in the day that his goal of playing on Opening Day is probably over. The left fielder will curtail hitting and throwing activities for five to seven days as he bounces back from left wrist surgery.
What they said: “I liked seeing him in the competitive mode that he was in tonight. He’s a fierce competitor. His pitches were good. He didn’t pitch that well with them. But I liked what we saw. I think he’s going to be a welcomed addition to this staff.” – Bobby Valentine on Buchholz.
What’s next: Daniel Bard, who is transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation, gets his first start of Spring Training in Tuesday’s 1:35 p.m. ET contest against the Orioles. Alfredo Aceves, also vying for a rotation spot, will work out of the bullpen. So, too, will highly touted prospect Alex Wilson. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Gonzalez should be back in the lineup after getting the night off on Monday.
Injury update: Closer Andrew Bailey could pitch in a game later this week, which would mark his first appearance in a Boston uniform. Bailey had been slowed by a mild lat strain.
David Ortiz, on the notion that Varitek was a quiet leader: “He did say a lot. He did. He just always found the right moment to say it, you know what I’m saying? Tek was somebody that I think this organization is going to need forever, especially now that he’s going to retire. I think he’s the kind of person this organization needs to keep very close. This is a guy who does nothing but add things – good things and like I say, it was an honor for me to be his teammate. I learned a lot of good things from Tek. One of the most important things from Tek was the hard work. He based his whole life on working hard and making sure that you were Ok. His preparation was so good, it was ridiculous. He was a guy that as long as I watched him play, he wanted to do well, he wanted to do good, he wanted to be prepared for that.”
Dan Duquette, the man who brought Varitek to Boston with one of the greatest trades in team history. “We were looking for a catcher. Everybody in the business new Jason Varitek because he was drafted twice in the first round. Did we know he’d be with the Red Sox for 15 years and lead the team to two championships? No. but to his credit, he had all the skills and he deserves all the credit for the great work ethic that he developed. His tenacity as a competitor. This kid, whenever we went into Yankee Stadium, he always had a big game. He always did something to help the team win on the big stage.”
Clay Buchholz, who threw the third of the record-setting four no-hitters Varitek no-hitters Varitek caught in his career. “There were a couple times, early in the game I shook off him a couple times and had a couple missiles hit. They were caught. But after that it was just I’m going to throw what he puts down. The game started speeding up on me a couple times and I remember him calling timeout, running out there, telling me to take a couple deep breaths, throw a pitch down and away and get a ground ball and get out of the inning. That’s what I’ll always remember about him. He was always the guy that could calm you down when things started to speed up.”
Jarrod Saltalmacchia, who absorbed Varitek’s lessons last year and will take over behind the plate. “Just the way he went about his business, watching him –– it wasn’t even in the clubhouse –– I could see from across the field, how people looked at him, how people respected him. So you definitely look up to a guy like that.”
Josh Beckett, who never wanted anyone but Varitek catching him since arriving in Boston in 2006. “I loved working with him. I’ll answer that part first. I’ve never had a catcher before that who I felt like cared more about what wanting me to be successful even before he wanted to be successful. He’s going to be missed a lot in the clubhouse and on the field.”
Bobby Valentine will never get to manage Varitek, but he has a strong grasp of what he meant. “From afar, he was everything you wanted a guy who wore a ‘C’ to be. He was a man’s man. He was a big hitter when needed. He was the leader of a pitching staff. He was able to beat up Alex [Rodriguez]. All that stuff is good stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.”
Derek Lowe, who was traded to Boston along with Varitek some 15 years ago, viewed his catcher as a human security blanket. “It was hard to leave [Boston],” Lowe said. “One of my biggest fears when I left to go to Los Angeles was to leave Varitek. I had not shaken him off in years. You just pitch. You throw whatever he says. And I think a lot of times it’s easier that way, because all you’re doing is reacting to what he’s putting down. You don’t have to think, really, about anything. I think that was one of the biggest things when I left. It was like, ‘Whoa, I’m going to have to start doing more of this stuff on my own.’ If you ask a lot of people, you’d be amazed at how many people, that even spent two or three months in Boston, say Varitek is the best catcher they’ve ever thrown to. A lot of those comments, clearly, he never hears. But to have that many people say this guy is the best, and we’re talking about well accomplished guys, he should be proud of the stuff he’s been able to do. “
Manager Bobby Valentine had his pitching plans for the first few exhibition games posted on the clubhouse wall this morning. Here are the lists
Thursday’s B game vs. the Twins.
Saturday vs. Northeastern
Saturday vs. Boston College
Sunday vs. Minnesota
Monday, March 5 at Minnesota
March 6 vs. Baltimore
March 7 “B” Game vs. Minnesota
March 7 at Toronto
What is easily the biggest series of Boston’s baseball season starts tonight at Fenway, as the Rays come in for the first of a four-game series. Obviously this series is huge because the Sox didn’t take care of business last weekend at Tropicana Field, losing three straight.
The Rays deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the way they’ve hung in this thing, beating the Red Sox head on nine out of 14 times entering tonight.
“Against us, their pitching – they have a plan and they follow through with it,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “They’ve really done a good job against our hitters for the most part. They have very good pitching. They’re a hard team to play because they’re so aggressive and if you give them an opening they make you pay for it. Saying that, I’m kind of looking forward to this series. It’ll be fun to play. Because they are – they feel good about themselves. So this will be fun to play.”
This game is going to be the hardest of the four for the Sox to win, with Kyle Weiland facing a talented pitcher in Jeremy Hellickson.
“The kid tonight pitches beyond his years as far as maturity and his changeup. And he has enough velocity,” Francona said of Hellickson.
Here are all the permutations possible by the end of the weekend.
Sox win all four. They lead the Rays by eight with 10 to go.
Sox win three out of four. They lead the Rays by six with 10 to go.
Sox and Rays split the series. Sox still lead the Rays by four with 10 to go.
Rays win three out of four. They leave town two games behind the Sox with 10 to go.
Rays sweep. The teams are tied with 10 to play.
The Red Sox had some good news on the injury front today, as Clay Buchholz pitched off a mound for the first time since being shut down two months ago. Buchholz threw 15 pitches in front of the mound and 15 off of it. The righty’s big test will come Saturday, when he is scheduled to have a full-blown side session.
The other good news is that the lineup has both David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez, who have recovered enough from their nagging injuries to play in this one.
Not only was John Lackey getting hit hard tonight, but then he joined the seemingly unending barrage of injuries that have inflicted the Sox of late.
Lackey left tonight’s game at Tropicana Field after being belted on the left calf by an inning-ending groundout by John Jaso. Lackey actually made a nice play to get Jaso out, but had to be taped in the dugout after that and could not continue.
So Lackey joins Josh Beckett, Erik Bedard and Clay Buchholz as Sox starting pitchers who can be classified as the walking wounded. And that’s without mentioning Kevin Youkilis, who is back in Boston having his ailing left hip looked at.
Just a few days ago, the Red Sox were hoping to win the division. Now a large chunk of Terry Francona’s focus has to be just getting his team to the postseason in one piece.
As the Red Sox formally addressed Clay Buchholz’s condition on Tuesday — confirming a report earlier this week that he has a stress fracture in his back — the one thing everyone wanted to know is this: Can the ultra-talented righty pitch again in 2011?
“I think there’s absolutely a chance,” said Red Sox medical director Tom Gill. “I just don’t know how big that chance is. I think that there’s a great chance he would be healed by then, so to speak. Or that the fracture would be stable by then. The question is, how much time does Clay then need to get Major League ready? You have to remember, Pawtucket, their season is over before the postseason. So that’s going to be kind of an internal baseball decision and working with Clay, how much time he needs to get back. After he’s medically cleared, he then has to get baseball cleared.”
Obviously the Red Sox’s chances to win a World Series go down at least a little without Buchholz. He was one of the best No. 3 starters in the game, and pitching means so much in October.
How closely can Erik Bedard come to resembling Buchholz? Can Theo Epstein find another starter through waivers in August? Can Andrew Miller finally put it together? What will John Lackey be going forward?
Offensively, the Red Sox have more than enough to make it through the rest of the season. But their success in October will hinge on how they pitch.
As for Buchholz, he was obviously disappointed that his season is now hanging by a thread.
“All along, I knew something was there, so, yeah, it’s good to go to a guy and have him be so forward with it and have him say it’s not a career-threatening thing and it’s not even a season-ending thing for me,” Buchholz said. “That’s a sigh of relief knowing that it’s almost been two months but at least I know there’s something there and I’m not just a big wuss.”
What is ahead for Buchholz is a five-step program that figures to be as monotonous as it is necessary if he’s to have any hope of pitching again this season.
“I’ve just looked at it briefly with [trainer] Mike [Reinold],” Buchholz said. “It’s a core stabilization and back stabilization type of exercise that can be over in a month and a half or it could take a little bit longer. I think there’s going to be a whole re-evaluation after a month of that program with Mike and the other guys in there, and we’ll go from there.”
The red flag was the side session that the Red Sox carefully built Buchholz up to pitching on July 25, and things still didn’t feel all the way back.
“Pitching that day was tolerable, ” Buchholz said. ” It didn’t feel 100 percent, but it felt 75 or 80 percent. The last 10 pitches I threw, I threw them at a pretty good effort level. After that was over with, I was pretty excited about that, knowing I could pitch with that kind of pain. The next morning, I woke up and it was back to the way it was in Tampa. It got aggravated from that, and that’s why I realized that it was going to take even longer than what I expected it to take after all the other expectations.”
Could Buchholz make a grand re-entry in October?
“Yeah, if there was a timetable, the postseason would be where I’d want to come back. That makes the most sense to me as far as being able to help this club,” said Buchholz.
Buchholz is determined to pitch again before Spring Training.
“Knowing that I can come back and play this season and potentially help this club win and get to the World Series again, that’s what I’m striving for right now,” Buchholz said.