Results tagged ‘ Clay Buchholz ’
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.
In an alarming development, Bobby Jenks went to the DL today for the third time this season. The injury? The same as the last one.
“Bobby experienced pain in his left mid back area when he was warming up last night, similar to the past injury,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “He’s going to fly back to Boston today and we’ll get him checked over the weekend.”
The Red Sox have called up lefty reliever Randy Williams from Pawtucket to take the spot of Jenks on the roster.
Meanwhile, Clay Buchholz felt a little progress when he threw yesterday, but he knows that his back is still not fully healed.
“Obviously I want to be pitching, I want to help the team in any way I can,” Buchholz said. “Me going out there not 100 percent, or not 80 percent, I don’t think is going to help the team any. I think if I rush back into it, it will be something that will be here for the rest of the season and I don’t want that. I’d rather be ready to pitch at 100 percent and I feel like that’s the way that I can help this team win.”
Buchholz did feel a little better when he played catch yesterday.
“It definitely did,” Buchholz said. “Went out there, just basically wanted to play catch at 50 percent and I actually went a little bit harder than that because I didn’t feel anything like I thought I was going to. Throwing has never really been the issue. It’s been pitching when throwing off the mound. I don’t think I’m at that point yet but yesterday was a step in the right direction for sure.”
Clay Buchholz conceded before Wednesday night’s game against the Phillies that his next start might not be until after the All-Star break.
Thanks to a lower back strain, Buchholz hasn’t pitched since June 16. He had held out hope a few days ago that he could return on July 4 at Fenway against the Blue Jays, but the righty no longer seems confident he can make it back that soon.
“[I'm] probably set back a little bit,” Buchholz said. “I’d rather come back after the All-Star break and be healthy, if that’s the case, unless something happens that what we’re doing is going to make it feel better in the next three or four days and then I could look at pitching when we get back home. I want to make sure I’m ready for August and September. If something happens and I go out and pitch and feel 80 percent, then this happens again and I have to go back on the DL, that’s not what I or, I don’t think the team wants. That’s where we’re at right now.”
A couple of days ago, Buchholz went out and threw with hope that the back issue would be cleared out. But he could tell it wasn’t.
“Just going out and throwing, I wanted it 100 percent gone before I pitch again and it was still there,” said Buchholz. “I definitely didn’t think it was going to be there like it was. Yeah, I expected to go out and throw … I didn’t expect it to be completely gone but it just didn’t get better as quick as I thought it was going to so that’s where we’re at right now.”
Buchholz and the Red Sox both think it is pointless and unproductive for him to try to grind through the injury at this point. As it is, it has lingered since late last season.
“Hopefully I can get this out of the way and come back at 100 percent and not have to worry about it for the rest of the season and hopefully it’s gone forever and I’ll never have to worry about it. That’s the outlook I have on it right now,” Buchholz said. “I’m sort of disappointed the last couple of days after I threw a couple of days ago. There’s nothing I can do about it except keep treating it and hopefully it gets better.”
In the meantime, Buchholz is happy that the Red Sox have pitchers like Tim Wakefield, Andrew Miller and Alfredo Aceves at their disposal.
“We have depth, so that’s a good thing. Someone else can take the ball and I can feel like there’s not any fall-off,” Buchholz said.
The Red Sox arrived in Cleveland without Daisuke Matsuzaka. The injured starter is currently in Japan tending to personal business. On his way back, he will stop in Southern California and see the renowned Dr. Lewis Yocum to get a second opinion on his ailing right elbow. At this point, Dice-K and the Red Sox hope surgery can be avoided. There will be more information on that front after the visit with Yocum, which will take place before the end of May. If Dice-K needed to have Tommy John Surgery, it would take him out for all of this season and at least a large portion of 2012. His contract with the Red Sox ends after the 2012 season.
Being back in Cleveland, I can’t help but think of how much things have changed since the last visit here. The Red Sox, lacking in confidence and execution at the time, dropped to 0-6. They left on that hearbreaking loss, when Darnell McDonald fell down rounding second to end the game. It was quite a way to enter the Home Opener the next day.
As it turns out, getting swept by the Indians was not quite as bad as it looked at the time. After all, these are the same Indians who have a 29-15 record, the best in the Majors.
“I was just thinking about getting introduced on that first-base line [for the home opener] and wondering if they were going to shoot us,” quipped Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “Obviously they’re playing good and they feel good about themselves and it happens every year to a team. You start out well. Guys get confident. You get a couple of guys that really click.”
The Red Sox are in far better position to go toe to toe with the Indians this time around, because they are clicking, with eight wins in their last nine games going into tonight.
“Well, when we were here, nothing was going right,” Francona said. “The day Lester pitched well, we didn’t get any runs. we got blown out every so often. We would lose a close one. We were inconsistent in all areas. Now, it seems like we’re sort of stringing together maybe that game where we spread it out a little bit and we’ve won a lot of close games. I just think things have settled down a little bit.
“Like Salty, which is such a huge position, things were going kind of quick for him, now I think it’s slowed down for him. Tek’s taken a little bit off his plate, which has helped. Pitching is keeping us in games where if we don’t swing the bat early, like last night, it gives us a chance to get into the game and not have to fight our way back so much. and then there’s been a couple of games where we’ve fought back. Gonzalez has been maybe the best hitter in the game.”
Tonight, the Red Sox see Justin Masterson, who made a great impression during his years in Boston’s farm system, and the parts of two seasons (2008-09) he spent on the Major League roster. Masteron has done a great job, going 5-2 with a 2.52 ERA in his first nine starts.
“I know, it’s hard not to love him,” Francona said. “We all do. I hope we beat his brains out. Yeah, he’s everybody’s favorite. How can he not be?”
What has Masterson done to take his game to the next level?
“He’s pitching in very aggressively, especially to lefties, and he always needed to do that,” Francona said. “Because of his arm slot, lefties are always going to get a better look than righties. He’s pitching in aggressively. Because he’s such an easygoing guy, I don’t think people realize how much he competes. But he’s a really good competitor. I just think he’s good. We used him out of the bullpen because we could. It was kind of a luxury. When you go into starting, you need to have that other pitch or locate a little bit to get through the second time through the order. Now he’s got that, and he’s really good.”
As for the Red Sox, they have a pretty good one of their own going in Clay Buchholz, who is coming off a career-high of 127 pitches.
“You won’t see him go that again, I guarantee you that,” Francona said. “He bounced back really well. A pitch count is a tool, and I agree with it. We need to know what it is. But he stayed in his delivery so well, he didn’t really tax himself. If he would’ve, we would’ve taken him out. I think he’ll be okay. But we recognize it and we’ll keep an eye on it. We keep an eye on workload pretty good. “
You can finally see the Red Sox for yourselves on Friday night, when they travel to Tampa to play the Yankees. It will be the first NESN telecast of 2011.
With a split squad coming up on Saturday, the Sox won’t bring their “A” team to Tampa to play the Yankees.
Clay Buchholz draws the start, but none of the nine projected Opening Day starting position players will be on sight.
Jason Varitek will catch, and the infield will include Lars Anderson, Jose Iglesias and Jed Lowrie. The outfield will be represented by Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava.
Before the club leaves for Tampa, Josh Beckett — recovered from his mild concussion symptoms — will throw three simulated innings in the bullpen. Adrian Gonzalez also might take live BP for the first time this spring.
There will be no ERA title for Clay Buchholz. His 2010 season has come to an end. The Red Sox have scratched Buchholz from Saturday’s scheduled start because of lower back stiffness.
Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will instead make the start, in pursuit of career win No. 194, and No. 180 with the Red Sox.
As for Buchholz, he had a tremendous season. The numbers speak for themselves — a 17-7 record, a 2.33 ERA and a .226 opponents batting average. Buchholz would have had a chacne to win the ERA title. Instead, it will go to Cy Young favorite Felix Hernandez, who is at 2.27 and won’t pitch again this year.
Maybe Clay Buchholz is hitting a wall. Six days after not having his usual sharpness in a start against the White Sox, Buchholz was simply awful tonight, recording just three outs before being lifted.
As the Red Sox slip from contenders to non-contenders, you wonder if Buchholz will skip a start or two here with an eye toward next year.
This was the shortest start of his career. The only other start he recorded just three outs was the game in San Francisco earlier this year when he injured his hamstring while running the bases.
The Red Sox arrived here in Anaheim tonight at the point in their season where they simply cannot fall any further back then they are in the standings if October is going to be any kind of realistic possibility.
Before even taking the field today, the Red Sox lost a half-game in the standings to both the Rays, who got a Matt Garza no-hitter against the Tigers and the Yankees, who notched a 3-2 win over Cleveland.
A loss tonight would drop the Sox nine games behind the Yankees in the American League East and six in back of the Rays in the Wild Card. In other words, they DESPERATELY need Clay Buchholz to out-duel Dan Haren in this one.
As for other news of the day:
One clear positive note was the return of Victor Martinez, who batted sixth . Another? Jacoby Ellsbury started his rehab in the Minors. Dustin Pedroia did some running before the game, and it didn’t go as well as he hoped. Still no word on exactly when Pedroia will return. A big part of it will be how his CT-scan goes in Boston on Friday.
But you have to wonder: Will the Red Sox still be within striking distance in the race(s) when they get all their big guns back?
At this hour, that is a very tough question to answer.