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Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Nieves breaks down Sox starters

By Gordon Edes

Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves, whom Gordon Edes profiles in a column now posted on ESPNBoston.com, weighs in with his thoughts on some Boston starters:

Jon Lester: "Wow. A horse. Unbelievable upside still. Stuff is there. Alterations, yes, must make some alterations. Conviction. Tough guy. My God, I never realized he was that big. I saw him really thin years ago. He's a big human. Very talented. Still, stuff is there, and I think with alterations he'll be fine. Not analyzing, conviction with alterations in delivery, trusting that will be challenge. Not more. More is not better."

Clay Buchholz: "Oh, incredibly talented guy even though I haven't seen him [live], I love what I've seen on video. Athletic, big-time contact guy. Should trust his stuff. Early contact guy. Command guy, still can throw very hard. He can get a punchout when he wants to. Can pitch under the zone early in the count so he can get a lot of ground balls. Keeps walks down. Keeps hit down per innings pitched. He should win 15 to 18 games. What a tremendous athlete."

Ryan Dempster: "Oh, he brings a lot to the table. Great sense of humor. Hard worker. You're not in big leagues 14, 16 years because you don't work. What a tremendous asset to this staff. Very serious guy but he'll also keep guys loose and relaxed, instead of uptight and wound up. He brings a lot of stability to the staff. He's a student of the game. He'll be the guy who helps [other pitchers]. A lot of guys, I'm sure, will go to him, and I advise them to do it."

Felix Doubront: "Oh, talented guy. 6-foot-4 lefty with a tremendous arm. Late in the season I saw his adjustments. He brings to the table incredible stuff. Fastball, cutter, curveball, changeup. This guy reminds me of a young CC [Sabathia]. Almost the same delivery, the same build. But he has to find himself and I think the best is yet to come from him."

John Lackey: "Ohhh, he's awesome. He's in great shape. What I've seen right now, I know John [Farrell] spoke to him, was able to see him [this winter] when I was somewhere else, I am thrilled about this guy. Really thrilled. Great guy, great sense of humor, fearless. You always think as a pitching coach, what does he bring to the table after a surgery? He has enough. There's enough stuff there. You always think, does he have to change his style, is it going to take time for him to adjust from being the guy he was to a few clicks [less]? The ball is coming out great, great spin on the fastball, the ball is not cutting true, great delivery, he's back to his old delivery. It might not be 97, 98, [but] the ball is coming out easy. And we know he's a great athlete.

"As I speak here, we're healthy; if we have a chance to be healthy, it should be fun."