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The following is a transcription from Tony Massarotti on the Felger & Massarotti Show from July 18, 2012, edited only for clarity or brevity.
“I don’t want to. If it was a do-or-die situation, then yeah, of course. If it was September, we’re pushing, that’s what you pitch for is to pitch in those situations. Not everybody’s 100 percent doing that pitching through the whole year anyways. If it came up to that, then absolutely, but we’re not to that point yet. … It would be tougher if things weren’t going as we wanted and guys weren’t throwing the ball well. It would be tougher to sit back and watch, but everyone’s pitching well so that’s why I’m gonna make sure I’m 100 percent before I go back out there.”
--Clay Buchholz, on Monday
That’s the type of comment you hear from whom? Pedro Martinez, who’s won Cy Youngs, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, a veteran guy. Some guy who looks around and says, “I know it’s not time yet, so I’m going to put the brakes on a little bit. I’ve been around long enough and I’ve done enough where I can feel like I can do that.”
Does this guy fall in that class? Is Clay Buchholz that guy? I don’t think he is.
When you really look at his body of work, what’s he really won? Can you explain to me what Clay Buchholz has won? He wasn’t won a Cy Young Award. He’s got a ring from having played during the 2007 season. He’s pitched in one career playoff game and he has a no-decision, so zero career playoff wins. He has never made more than 29 starts in any given season.
So where does this sort of passivity and comfort come from?
The one thing we all like about this team this year is that they don’t have that attitude. They came out of the gate saying, for the first time in a long time, “We have something to prove. We have to win you back. We have to play again.”
Hell, even Jon Lester came out of the gate strong. I say “even him” because a lot of people still associate and connect him with chicken and beer. Rightly so. John Lackey has earned some respect back as a competitor if nothing else.
And you know what, I would still say about Lester — I admit, I’m a little partial to Lester — I think his performance has slipped badly, but he takes the ball. I have to believe in the eight years Jon Lester has been in the big leagues, that he has pitched through some physical ailments and discomfort related to pitching and not said bleep about it. Because every pitcher does.
And this guy, Buchholz, says that he’s guaranteed of not being hurt by the doctors, that he might be at 90 percent but he’s not going back out there until he’s 100 percent again.
I feel like that’s the attitude I don’t want here anymore. I don’t want that anymore. I want them to compete and play like they have everything to gain. And it feels to me like he’s taking the opposite approach.
There were a couple of comments from Buchholz that bugged me. The other one is, “Hey, let me tell you [the doctors] when I feel ready and then we can set something up.”
Has he earned that kind of latitude? Are we talking about that kind of talent? Or that kind or productivity?
He’s got unique talent, a first-round pick, but he acts like he’s won 150 games in the big leagues and he’s got two Cy Youngs under his belt.
I have nothing against the guy personally or anything like that, but to me, that’s the attitude that got the team in trouble in the first place.
And there are a lot of guys I look at on this team and I say, well, he’s not having a great year but he’s trying. I feel like Lester’s trying. I feel like Lackey’s trying.
I would call them all, generally, competitors. I still don’t know about Buchholz.
Would you describe him as a guy who fights?
I’m willing to say just, “I don’t know.” I’m not saying he’s completely someone who caves in, because I don’t think he’s that either. But he’s somewhere in the middle at least. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now and say, “OK, Show me that you’re going to pitch through something, show me that you’re going to fight through something, and then you’ll start to win me over with your competitiveness with your attitude, with your spirit, with your fight.”
You look at a guy like Dustin Pedroia and you say, Man this is a guy giving you all he’s got. I don’t think I feel that way with Buchholz.
Is he a talented guy? Do they need him? Yes.
Do I like his attitude? No, I don’t.
Look, it’s one thing when a guy has a legitimate injury. Even Lackey, whom a lot of people came to dislike and for good reason two years ago, he pitched the whole year, took a lot of crap for it and then had elbow surgery right after the year ended. So I think we can all agree, like Lackey or hate him, he did pitch through an elbow problem. He kept taking the ball.
And Lester – I keep coming back to the most underrated stats in all of sports is game played. And for a pitcher, it’s games started. These guys are never 100 percent – never. What they put their bodies through is a grind. The physical wear and tear of throwing 110 pitches every five days, they’re sore, and it takes them a couple of days to recover from that. A lot of these guys, when they’re banged up, still take the ball.
Pedro got hurt a lot, but he took the ball. Clemens was notorious for being a bull and would pitch through things when he shouldn’t have. Schilling I think would pitch through things that he shouldn’t have. Most front-line guys will do that. Your real, true aces will pitch through at 90 percent. Hell, they’ll pitch at 80 percent or less.
Not to go back into different eras, but I always romanticize about the David Cones and the Bret Saberhagens, and watching them in games when they couldn’t get the ball to the plate because the manager left them out there so long. And Buchholz is saying, You know what? We’re up four. The division’s close. But if this were September and we had a month to go, then I would pitch. Then it would be important. Not now.
To whom? To him? And what does he base that on? Again, he’s never won a postseason game. He did not pitch in the 2007 World Series. Once in his career he’s had more than 11 wins. He’s never made 30 starts.
Where does that attitude come from? What, because you’re a first-round pick and they signed you to a multi-million dollar contract, you can just coast now? Because you got the ring when you were along for the ride? And oh by the way, that postseason amid all these whispers about him living maybe a Tyler Seguin kind of life off the field, they sent him home.
Where does this come from? This is the type of stuff that they have to weed out.
Maybe someone says something, maybe they don’t, becauase he’s pitching so well. Maybe everyone’s keeping their mouths shut. But this is where a real veteran guy would say something like, “Hey, get your ass out there. We need you on the mound. Go.”
The more I think about the comments, the more they irritate me. And I can’t help but look at them as being the pitching version of Jacoby Ellsbury in 2010.
What are we talking about here? Who are you really? What are you doing? Do you want to win? Or are you just here to cash the checks?
Tony Massarotti co-hosts “Felger & Massarotti” on 98.5 The Sports Hub, weekdays 2-6 p.m.