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BOSTON (CBS) – Clay Buchholz has been ready to take the mound since last September, but his Red Sox never gave him a chance, going 7-20 in the season’s final month.
Now, the right-hander slated to be Boston’s No. 3 starter is even more eager. He missed the last three and a half months of the 2011 season with a stress fracture in his lower back, but says all is good as he gets ready to start spring training.
“I feel pretty good. I’ve started a little bit earlier than I usually do just for the simple fact I wanted to make sure everything came together OK,” Buchholz told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jonny Miller in Fort Myers on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m probably about eight, nine bullpens in and I haven’t had a problem.”
The 27-year-old was ready to go if the Red Sox needed him the final game of last season, and would have been able to pitch out of the bullpen had they made the playoffs. Instead, he started getting ready for the 2012 season.
“I worked out in Arizona with [Dustin] Pedroia for the most part. It was a good rehab session. It’s come together. I haven’t had any issues and it’s been good so far,” he said.
Buchholz also had a chance to catch up with his new manager in the offseason, as Bobby Valentine paid a visit to a few of his players in Arizona.
“He came out and it was Pedroia, [Jacoby Ellsbury], [Darnell] McDonald, and myself. We sat down and had dinner with him, talked to him about an hour and a half,” said Buchholz. “It was good. His previous job, being a commentator and having to critique, I think everybody sort of looks at that a little too rough.
“He’s a good dude; he’s upbeat and ready to take on the challenge of managing the Boston Red Sox. I think everybody knows how tough that can be at times. I think it’s going to be good for us,” he said of the new man in charge.
And as for the September collapse, even though he wasn’t around for most of it, Buchholz knows he and the rest of the team will be asked questions about it this spring.
“It is what it is. I think that stuff is over and done with now,” Buchholz said, adding he stayed away from all the stories written about it this offseason. “I know we’ll have to answer questions early, but for the most part we didn’t hit or didn’t pitch. If you don’t do either one of those things in a single month, it’s not going to turn out well. I think everybody knows that. I think a lot of the guys have come here with a chip on their shoulder.
“It happened more than that in previous years, but we did well and it wasn’t to be spoken of,” he added. “The main issue was we didn’t make the playoffs and that was just something for people to talk about.”
As for what exactly happened in September that led to the Sox missing the playoffs for the second straight season, Buchholz isn’t sure what happened, but is sure his teammates are motivated by it.
“Every night we were playing and it seemed to start unraveling, I think everyone was asking that question,” he said. “It was a little disturbing for a little bit, but I think everybody sort of let go of it. We have a new group of guys, new manager, a lot of new faces here this year. We’re here to take on the battle we have to fight.”