Red Sox

Clay Buchholz explains how he handled Boston

Clay Buchholz explains how he handled Boston

PHILADELPHIA — At least for a time, Clay Buchholz was the easiest target of 2016, the easiest Red Sox pitcher for fans and media to criticize — fairly and unfairly.

A year ago on Friday, Buchholz was pitching in relief. Three scoreless innings lowered his ERA to 5.86.

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The righty put together a strong second half bouncing between the pen and the rotation, a second half that was easy to overlook. From July 27 through the end of the regular season, his ERA was 2.80. 

But no one, including him, would have been shocked if he was traded before he had a chance to redeem himself in the second half. His Red Sox time looked like it needed to end. It did over the winter in a trade with the Phillies.

Buchholz lived Boston, with all its warts and glory, for a long time. His 188 starts are 16th all-time in franchise history. Pedro Martinez made 201 starts. Jon Lester made 241.

How did Buchholz handle Boston from 2007-16? Coming back from forearm surgery, Buchholz explained his approach and experience in a conversation with CSNNE.com in the home dugout at Citizens Bank Park. 

What were the secrets for Clay Buchholz playing in Boston?

"When I was good for an extended period of time and I was bad for an extended period of time, it’s a lot easier to handle obviously when you’re good. Because there’s nobody coming at you and there’s nobody looking for answers to what’s going on or what’s wrong, or why aren’t you doing this. I guess the secret is just be really good every time you go out. I don’t think anybody can really do that, except for a select number of guys in the league. 

"It was definitely a learning curve to it. My whole motto was have a short memory with everything. With the good, you had a good start, you win a game, when you come into the field the next day, start your work for that next start rather than dwelling on that good or bad start. And that’s how I got through some of the bad times, and I was able to come back and throw the ball well. Because I didn’t, [it] was always said that I was a mental midget, or that I was weak mentally, I feel like I was one of the stronger mentally sound people in the game just because of the fact of what I had to go through, and what I put myself through on a lot of occasions. 

"You got to be a man, you got to step up, you got to talk about your start if you’re a starting pitcher and you got to address the media and all that stuff, and I think everybody knows that. But it’s the difference from there and then here [in Philadelphia] is there is maybe, there’s 25 people of media in Boston. There’s maybe six here. That number obviously makes it easier. You don’t have to talk to different people about the same stuff for three days after a start. You can do it, get it out and it’s done. But yeah I just try to take it one day at a time. I knew that there were two things that were going to happen: I’m going to go out and be good or I’m going to go out and not be so good. And the days that you’re not so good, you got to try to keep your team in the game within striking distance to score some runs and get back at it. 

"That’s all I thought about it. I didn’t ever, I tried not to let it ever affect me in a negative way. Sometimes it does, and that’s the times you have to sort of learn from what happened and how it happened and why it happened and try to break it down and not let that happen again."

Did you feel like by the end of it you kind of figured it out?

"I mean, yeah, there was a bunch of different points in time where I would revert back. I’m on a good route right now, I‘m throwing the ball good, I feel good. And, like I said, that’s when it’s easy to go through and be able to talk to people. It’s when somebody has something to say about you that you don’t necessarily believe or understand, and that gets blown up. And then you have to answer questions about it all over again. So like, it’s a recurrence. You got to — it’s a process through elimination. You got to test things out and learn how to do it and know what works best for you. Some people are better at just being a ‘yes’ guy, and telling people what they want to hear. Some guys are, they don’t know how to do that. 

"And that’s whenever you’re faced with adversity, that’s one of those times coming to play where, like I said, you have to be a man, you got to step up and do it. But, everybody’s got their boiling point and everybody has their mark where, once they cross that line, you got to try something different. Sometimes it’s negative and sometimes it’s positive. I tried to keep it positive just for the simple fact there were already enough negative things happening. Didn’t want to add any negativity to the whole ordeal. That’s basically all I did."

Did you guys talk about it behind the scenes? Would you and Jon Lester or whoever, Josh Beckett, have a conversation about how we should do this or not?

"Not so much. Everybody’s personality’s different. You know, Jon Lester was a pretty quiet guy. John Lackey wasn’t. Josh Beckett wasn’t. Curt Schilling wasn’t. So, my personality would not, you wouldn’t be able to combine my and Beckett’s or my and Curt Schilling’s personality because they’re polar opposites. So you got to be you, and you got to say what you want to say, or you got to say what you think people want to hear, and that’s the two different ways that you can go. One of ‘em is going to be a more positive way of doing it, because people are going to forget about it. And the other one, people are going to keep bringing it up, because you’re causing confrontation. That’s part of it. "

You’re not on social media for this reason?

"A lot. I mean, I have kids and stuff. I know that if I was to post to something — they already know where I’m at, they already know enough about me, and my life’s public knowledge, basically. Nobody needs to know any more about me. My wife and the kids, they do it, and I don’t agree with it. But that’s what she does so I can’t tell her not to. Yeah, that’s part of the reason. Everybody’s going to have those nights where they’re sitting at their house, just boiling in their mind. Their head’s spinning and they see somebody tweet something. The manly something to do is to tweet something back. That’s part of it. So, that’s what I’ve always tried to stay away from."

Do you miss it? Boston?

"I miss the guys. Those are my buddies, you know. You got a really good group of guys over here too, that’s what I was telling ‘em. It’s obviously more veteran-oriented over there. You got a couple young studs that are going to be around the game for a long time. So, this team’s more along the lines of building to get to that point right now. And there’s — I don’t have a doubt in my mind that they could do it. You just got a couple more pieces here and there throughout the next three years or so, three or four years, then this team could be back to where it was five years ago. 

"But I do miss the guys, it was good to see ‘em. It was time for a change for me. It was time for a change. I mean, I knew I thought I was getting traded for the last two years. So, it’s finally happened and I landed in a good group with a good group of guys that are young and they’re still feeling the big leagues out in some way. But learning how to play the game, learning what it’s about. The No. 1 thing is to win, and that’s what everybody has to have their mind focused on."

You’re the veteran now.

"I know. It’s crazy."

It’s weird?

"It is. It really is."


 

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

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NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs - matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik�. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."

OUT WITH A BANG

Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.

LIGHTS OUT

Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.