BOSTON (CBS) — Clay Buchholz spent the latter half of the 2013 season and even parts of the postseason worried about his health. While the end result was a World Series championship, the Red Sox’ right-hander is hoping to avoid a similarly difficult season in 2014.
“That’s goal number one. I think if I do that [stay healthy], everything will fall into place,” Buchholz said Monday in Fort Myers.
Buchholz said his nagging shoulder injury from last season is healed, thanks to extended rest after the season. However, that additional rest means he’s slightly behind schedule in terms of where he usually is when arriving at spring training.
“That’s what Dr. [James] Andrews told me the day when I went and saw him, he said it’s all rest. It’s like picking a scab, if you just try to keep throwing and fighting through it,” Buchholz said. “So I took a full month off of not picking up a ball, not doing anything. Right whenever I started working out again, I didn’t feel anything. Probably mid-December. Usually coming into camp, I’ve thrown four or five bullpens. This year, I didn’t throw any bullpens. I’m using spring training as the purpose of spring training, which is getting ready for the season this year.
“This offseason’s been a little bit different than in the past, not having the amount of time off. So in recent years I’ve gotten to spring training basically being in midseason form as far as being off the mound. In speaking with the training staff and everything, I needed to take a step back from that and make sure that everything was fully recovered and not to push anything too far too soon. It’s a different route than I’ve gone the last four, five years coming into camp, but just playing catch and long toss and everything, I feel a lot better with it by doing that rather than just jumping into the throwing program when I would normally do it.”
Buchholz got off to a hot start in 2013, going 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA. But injuries kept him off the field until Sept. 10. He went 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA in his four September starts, but the pain came back in the postseason. Still, he was able to gut out his starts, allowing two runs over five innings in the clinching game of the ALCS and pitching four shutout innings in Game 4 of the World Series in St. Louis.
“I didn’t have a choice at that point,” Buchholz said. “It was go out, and that’s what I told John Ferrell before the game, that I wasn’t 100 percent. Playing baseball and then getting to that point in the season, in the World Series, you never know how many other times you’re going to be able to get to do that. Personally, that was my outlook on it. I feel like even me being at 80 percent, I could help the team win in some ways.”
Buchholz said that experience should help him in the future, should he ever find himself unable to hit the mid-90s with his fastball.
“I was 85-90 [mph] I think that start, and the way the ball was moving, that just tells me that I don’t always have to throw 94 to have success,” Buchholz said. “And that’s against one of the better teams in baseball, too.”
As for Boston’s chances of a repeat, Buchholz said it’ll be hard, but the right pieces are in place.
“Whenever you put a group of guys onto the field like we put out there every game last year, it makes it easier for everybody else,” Buchholz said. “It’s hard to repeat in any sport. One-hundred-and-sixty-two games is a long season, and then you add 15, 20 games on top of that in the postseason. It’s tough. A lot of things have to happen right — a little bit of luck sometimes. Just go out and like I’ve said 100 times before, you’ve just got to go out and do your job and do the little things right that you can control, and then let everything else fall into place.”