BOSTON (CBS) — Clay Buchholz is ready to make yet another comeback, as the right hander will get the start for the Red Sox Wednesday night in Seattle.
Buchholz spent the last month recovering from a knee injury, but his time on the disabled list was for much more than a physical ailment. He walked off the mound May 26, just having surrendered six runs in three innings to the Atlanta Braves, a little lost. Not much had gone right for Buchholz since he started the 2013 season 9-0, landing on the disabled list in mid-June with a stiff neck. He returned as a shell of himself in September, and though he finished the regular season by going 3-1 and made four postseason starts, it was clear something (or many things) wasn’t right.
That carried over into this season as Buchholz struggled out of the gate. He went 2-4 with a 7.04 ERA in his first 10 starts, with an astronomical 1.98 WHIP over 50 innings. While the Red Sox placed him on the DL with a “knee injury,” the time off was just as much for Buchholz to get things straightened out mechanically and mentally.
Buchholz told reporters he did just that over the last month. After an extended rest, he made two rehab starts for the Pawtucket Red Sox and felt very confident after walking off the mound after his second of the two, hurling six shutout innings while allowing just two hits last Thursday.
For Buchholz, this is just another chapter in his long history of comebacks. He views this new chapter as a clean slate, and hopes it reads much better than the last few.
“There is nothing I can do about the numbers that are up there right now but pitch well and give my team a chance to win. That’s my mindset; to just help out as much as I can,” Buchholz told reporters late Tuesday. “That’s me being prepared and throwing longer than the other guy does.
“I’ve wanting to get back out there since the day I hit the DL,” he said. “I feel like I put in the work I needed to put in to get better.”
Buchholz said his mind was clear last week in Pawtucket, and he’s confident that approach will follow him to Seattle.
“There wasn’t any thinking, and that’s what has to happen before you step into a game at this level. It’s something I was doing a lot of just about every start of the season this year. It’s tough to go out and compete when you have three or four things on your mind other than throwing a baseball to a good location,” he said. “It was a struggle, but I feel like I’ve overcome a lot and am ready to go.
“I’ve gone through some lows and pretty big highs in my career so far. Knowing how to forget your last start regardless of the outcome, you have to know how to do that,” he added. “The team thought I needed to take a step back to take two steps forward, and that’s where I feel I am at right now.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters that he expects a different Clay Buchholz to take the hill for the Red Sox on Wednesday night.
“He’s more confident that he can execute (his pitches),” said Farrell. “He comes back to us after taking a breather, getting the knee right and working on things delivery-wise, in a good place.”
The Red Sox have a plethora of starters currently on the roster, and Farrell has hinted at a potential six-man rotation. Felix Doubront, who just returned from the DL himself, will be regulated to the bullpen, with Brandon Workman and Rubby De La Rosa remaining in the rotation after filling in nicely for the injured Buchholz and Doubront.
With other hurlers pitching well, Buchholz will be on a short leash in the Boston rotation. He’ll have to prove that he can be the pitcher he was to start 2013, and worthy of a turn in the rotation over a few of Boston’s bright young arms.
But Farrell is hoping that a strong second-half from Buchholz is one of the keys for a struggling Red Sox team that sits seven games back of a Wild Card spot and 8.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East.
“When you compare to what he did before missing time last year, he was one of the top pitchers in the game. If we can get a pitcher of that caliber and that production, he is going to give us a huge boost,” said Farrell.
Buchholz is just as confident his team can make a playoff run as he is in his stuff on the mound.
“We have a lot of games left to play. In our division there are a lot of things that can happen,” said Buchholz. “There is more than enough time to do what we have to do.”
We’ll see if this newest chapter rewrites the book on Buchholz, or if it’s one of the last installment he’ll make in Boston.
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