Red Sox

Clay Buchholz ready to have his job back in the Red Sox starting rotation


Clay Buchholz ready to have his job back in the Red Sox starting rotation

BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz hadn’t had much to say -- in fact nothing to say -- once he was initially reinstalled in the Red Sox starting rotation following his scoreless three-inning outing in relief Friday night.

John Farrell made it clear before Sunday’s game that Buchholz’s “aggressive nature” and ability to “simplify” his approach Friday are what he expects the righty to carry over into the start.

Buchholz felt similarly, explaining all of that rooted from relying on his changeup more heavily.

“Well historically -- as far as my pitching goes -- the reason I made it to the big leagues is because I had a good changeup and I used it in different situations, different counts,” Buchholz explained after his bullpen before Sunday’s game. “[Friday night] was the first time I’ve really had that -- where I was confident enough to throw it behind the count, ahead in the count, for strike one. And it’s a big pitch for me. That’s what I’ve tried to keep hold of and sort of remember what I was doing the other night to have that pitch available to me whenever I need it.

“It’s fun going out there whenever you can throw a pitch that you know is a swing-and-miss pitch at times or it’s a contact pitch at times and it can get you out of some big situations and some tight spots. That’s what I’m focused on. Trying to throw strike one and trying to keep guys off balance.”

Buchholz has often received criticism for his mental approach in every way imaginable -- this year more so that he’s overthinking his pitch sequence on the mound. But he explained that it’s not that simple and how his game plan has developed through his 10-year MLB career.

“Baseball it’s a mental game, especially as a pitcher,” Buchholz said. “There’s a tons of video that these hitters can look at. They can look back as many years as they want to and see what you throw, see what it looks like coming in, see what count you throw it in.”

“That’s part of my game is keeping guys off balance. I try to master as many pitches as I can just to have those in my back pocket to throw in situations that maybe I wouldn’t usually throw them, but keep a hitter off balance and get him out in front and get some miss-hits that might induce a couple to double plays. That’s a big part of my game. That’s what we’ve been working on.”

From the first day he was moved to the pen it’s been no secret that Buchholz wasn’t pleased with the move. Even if he never said those words exactly, no one wants to lose their job.

But what can be said about the reinstated starter is he’s handled the move better than anyone would’ve anticipated, giving up three runs in 9.1 innings of relief -- all coming from one outing.

“Yeah, this game’s tough sometimes,” Buchholz said. “Being in the big leagues, you’re blessed to get an opportunity to pitch here. I’ve been fortunate to do it for a little bit -- for a good period of time now. Sometimes you go through some funks you just don’t really put a finger on why it’s going on and why it’s happening, or how it’s happening. Sometimes you get that sort of that loss for where you don’t know what you’re doing wrong -- but you need to find it -- and that’s sort of where I was at.

“I was able to work on some stuff with Dana [LeVangie] and Carl [Willis] to get me back on time within my delivery. Hopefully that allows me to throw pitches and execute pitches like I need to.”

Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

File photo

Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel returned to Fort Myers on Sunday after his 4-month-old daughter underwent successful heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Red Sox are confident he'll be ready for Opening Day.

“Oh, yeah. Plenty,” manager Alex Cora replied when asked if Kimbrel had time to get ready for the March 29 opener against the Rays in St. Petersburg. “With him it’s a different schedule, anyway. He’ll be ready.”

Kimbrel's daughter, Lydia Joy, was born with a heart defect. He left the team Feb. 28 to be with her and his family in Boston, but pitching coach Dana Levangie said Kimbrel was on a pitching program during that time.

“The most important thing is that the family is okay with [Kimbrel returning to the Sox],” Cora said. “If they’re okay with it, we’re okay with it.”

The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

NBC Sports Boston Photo

The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

0:21 - With less than two week before the beginning of the 2018 season, the Red Sox don’t have all of the answers for their rotation. Lou Merloni and Evan Drellich project their Opening Day rotation and discuss the lack of depth in it.

4:39 - Will Boston’s version of the ‘Killer B’s’ return in full force this season? Lou and Evan analyze the performances of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi.

10:07 - Buy or sell? John Farrell will find another managerial position this season; J.D. Martinez will have a better season than Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton; Dave Dombrowski has put the best possible team out there for 2018.