CLEVELAND -- If Dave Dombrowski has shown anything in his brief tenure in running the Red Sox baseball operations, it's that he's a man of action.
Dombrowski watched Hanley Ramirez for about a week in left field and determined that he was better suited for first base.
He identified a front-line starter and a closer as his team's off-season needs, and traded for Craig Kimbrel and signed David Price -- before the winter meetings even got underway.
And this spring, Dombrowski paved the way for Travis Shaw and Brock Holt to win starting jobs when he announced that performance -- not paychecks -- would determine playing time.
Dombrowski has proven that he's driven, direct and determined. He didn't take this job to "build'' toward anything. With two straight last-place finishes, one postseason appearance in the past six seasons, and the biggest payroll in franchise history, he's intent on winning now.
So, it will be interesting to see how Dombrowski responds to Clay Buchholz.
Buchholz's first start of the season Wednesday was a stinker. He put the Red Sox behind 4-0 in the first, lasted just over four innings and forced the bullpen to get the final dozen outs, all the while, wasting a strong performance by the Red Sox lineup against Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco.
Yes, it was only one game. But it was the kind of outing that has come to enrage Red Sox fans over the years, and it came replete with the usual rationalization from the pitcher himself, who noted that, when you think about it, it wasn't THAT bad, once you got past that pesky three-run homer from Carlos Santana in the first inning.
The Red Sox finally have an ace in Price, who did his part Tuesday in the opener. But good as he is, Price can only start once every five games and if the rest of the starters don't provide the necessary support, Price will end up being an expensive ornament on an otherwise suspect rotation.
The maddening thing about Buchholz -- beyond his fragility -- is that, when healthy, he's capable of pitching like a dependable No. 2 starter.
A year ago, in his second start of the season, Buchholz turned in an effort that was even worse than Wednesday's, but still had a 3.26 ERA into the month of July. In 12 of his 18 starts, he allowed three runs or fewer.
But invariably, there are nights like Wednesday, when Buchholz fails to keep the Red Sox in the game. And then there are the annual DL stints -- he's been on the disabled list at least once in each of the last six seasons.
Dombrowski has brought a sense of urgency to the Red Sox. If he's not quite willing to gut the farm system in exchange for the chance win now -- as some had forecast -- he's at least demonstrated a decisiveness that had been lacking.
His predecessor, Ben Cherington, deserves credit for stockpiling the prospects that now fill the organization, making it the envy of most other player development systems. But Cherington frequently displayed a passive approach with the major league club, preaching patience and placing trust that, eventually, the team would perform.
That -- and more than a few ill-advised free agent signings -- cost Cherington his job last summer.
Dombrowski has shown no such passivity. If something needs to be done, he'll do it.
Which isn't to suggest that Buchholz will be yanked from the rotation before his next start -- which, incidentally, will be the home opener next Monday at Fenway, and won't that result in a warm welcome for the pitcher?
But you don't get the sense that Dombrowski is going to sit and watch too many starts like the one he witnessed Wednesday night. That's simply not his style. If Buchholz can't consistently pitch better than he did on Wednesday night, Dombrowski will find someone -- internally or through a trade -- who can.
Before the Red Sox can even return to Fenway, the clock could already be ticking.