Boston Red Sox: Clay Buchholz

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With T-shirts of his own creation, Clay Buchholz made a fashion statement in the Red Sox clubhouse Thursday afternoon, one that will be modeled by the five members of the team’s reconstructed starting rotation.

Buchholz
Buchholz
Buchholz placed a blue T-shirt in each starter’s locker that bore the inscription “He’s the ace” on the front and the pitcher’s name on the back. He also had another T-shirt made up, a gray one, that said, “I’m the ace” and will be worn by that game’s pitcher. It was an original way for Buchholz to weigh in on one of this spring’s prevailing themes -- that the Sox rotation lacks a true No. 1.

“It was awesome,” said Joe Kelly, who started Thursday night and found the T-shirt waiting when he arrived.

“It was something he talked about he was going to do, and all of a sudden it showed up in my locker.

“I don’t know why they cut the sleeves off all of them. That's something [Rick] Porcello likes, I guess. He’s a big sleeveless guy. I don’t have big arms, so I don’t really want to wear no-sleeve shirts, but they all wanted to do it, so I did.”

As for the message?

“It’s cool,” he said. “I like it. We’re all pulling for each other. I like where his head is at and where our heads are at as a group. It’s pretty cool to see how we’ve bonded just from little things on and off the field. It already seems like we’ve been playing with these guys ever since I’ve been drafted.

“For Buchholz to go out of his way and step up as a leader, I like that. It was, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to wear.’ Everyone said, ‘OK, we’re going to wear them.’”

Said manager John Farrell: “Maybe it’s a way there’s some motivation or some positive direction taken from the reminders that are seemingly there every day.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Where to find the ties that bind?

Wade Miley suggests you start with a golf course. That’s the place, he said Tuesday, where the five members of Boston’s revamped starting rotation have begun the bonding process.

“That’s what golf does,’’ the Red Sox left-hander said. “Any time you get to play golf, it’s going to be fun here.’’

Ask Miley the pecking order of pitchers based on their prowess on the links, and you get an answer suspiciously similar to the one you get when asking their order in the rotation.

“It’s pretty competitive,’’ he said, “but I think we’re all the same, just knocking it around, just having a good time.’’

[+] EnlargePorcello
Michael Ivins/Getty ImagesRick Porcello said he's making strides toward his first regular-season start, likely on April 8.
Anyone expecting Miley to rank fellow starters Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly, Justin Masterson and himself from top to bottom was bound to be disappointed, which is about the same reaction Porcello evoked when asked what it would mean to start Opening Day.

“I think our goal as a team is the same,’’ he said. “I don’t care who pitches Opening Day. I don’t care who pitches the second, third, fourth or fifth game. The ring is the only thing that matters.’’

Logic points to Buchholz being the Opening Day starter. He’s the only one of the five who has been here for more than a half hour, or so it seems. Kelly came in a trading-deadline deal with the Cardinals last July; Miley, Porcello and Masterson all were added in the offseason, Miley and Porcello by trade, Masterson via free-agent signing. Buchholz is entering his ninth season with the Sox, beginning with a four-start stint in 2007 that included a no-hitter, and if he’s healthy he’s deserving.

By having Buchholz, Porcello and Miley all pitch in Tuesday’s college doubleheader, manager John Farrell was offering no clue as to which pitcher would go April 6 against the Phillies. And there’s plenty of time in spring training to make alterations to whatever order he may be considering at this moment.

But without being overly touchy-feely, there was a clue Tuesday to how this rotation is coming together. Porcello and Buchholz, whose work had been completed long before Miley took the mound against Boston College in the second game, were in the dugout to greet Miley when his two scoreless innings of work were over.

“It was cool to come out and see those guys standing there,’’ said Miley, who did the same for Buchholz and Porcello in the first game. “Big-time support. We’ve got to lean on each other throughout the year; why not start right now?’’

Buchholz went comebacker, line out and whiff in a 1-2-3 first inning against Northeastern, throwing 9 of 13 pitches for strikes. Porcello did not allow a ball out of the infield in retiring six straight over the next two innings, recording consecutive strikeouts on called third strikes. Miley, against BC, gave up one hit and was charged with a balk, but registered three ground outs, a line out and two strikeouts.

Of the 15 outs recorded by the three starters, seven came via grounders, five by K’s. If Sox starters are right this season, you should be seeing a lot of that. Sox stats maestro Jon Shestakofsky notes there were 34 pitchers last season who threw 125 innings or more and had a ground-ball rate of 50 percent or better. The Sox acquired three of them in a two-day span last December: Masterson, Miley and Porcello.

“If it’s in the air,’’ Miley said, “I’m not doing my job.’’

Porcello’s first action with the Sox lacked the drama provided by the man for whom he was traded, Yoenis Cespedes, who hit a grand slam Tuesday for the Tigers. But Porcello threw strikes, kept the ball down and said his arm felt good, the kinds of things you want to hear from a pitcher his first time out.

Miley, who works fast on the mound, would have liked to have had more consistent command of his sinker, but figures that will come with time. Buchholz is continuing to work on modifying his leg kick and his landing spot, knowing it will allow him to throw his changeup more often for strikes.

And Farrell, while not wanting to give it more weight than it deserves, was pleased to see the way they’re pulling for each other.

“It’s very important, the support among the five,’’ he said. “They can learn from one another. We’ve had a number of meetings with the five on what they want and what we want to get out of them. There’s been some sort to bond, but it still comes down to how they pitch and the quality of their innings.’’

Dustin Pedroia, warmer weather arrive

February, 21, 2015
Feb 21
10:27
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good morning from the Fort, where Dustin Pedroia showed up -- and so did some semblance of spring weather.

Friday’s shocking beginning -- the morning low of 35 degrees set an all-time record for Feb. 20 in Fort Myers and was colder than the Alaskans experienced in Juneau -- will be a distant memory, with a morning temperature of 44 bursting into 77-degree glory. Sunscreen is not optional today.

Twenty-nine Boston Red Sox pitchers and six catchers are going through their first workouts today at Fenway South, and fans are allowed into the back fields for the first time.

What will they see?

Well, they’ll get their first look at right-hander Rick Porcello and left-hander Wade Miley, who were acquired in offseason deals and will occupy 40 percent of the starting rotation. Porcello and Miley will pitch in a bullpen session with Clay Buchholz.

Koji Uehara, who was signed to a two-year, $18 million deal to continue as closer, will do long toss along with fellow relievers Craig Breslow, Brandon Workman and knuckleballer Steven Wright.

On Fields 3, 4 and 6, non-throwing pitchers -- including Joe Kelly, Justin Masterson, Junichi Tazawa, Alexi Ogando and Edward Mujica -- will field comebackers, cover first and handle bunts.

Catchers will take batting practice in 15-minute groups, with Christian Vasquez, Ryan Hanigan and Blake Swihart in the first group and Luke Montz, Humberto Quintero and Matt Spring in the second.

Sox ride spurt of optimism into break

July, 13, 2014
7/13/14
7:28
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HOUSTON -- Well, at least it ended on a positive note.

The worst first half of Red Sox baseball in nearly 20 years concluded Sunday with an 11-0 win over the Houston Astros. After hobbling through much of the first three months and the first week of July, the Red Sox enter the All-Star break winners of four of five.

It was their best five-game stretch in six weeks.

[+] EnlargeHolt
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsBrock Holt's first-inning home run was part of his five-hit day, the first for the Sox in four years.
"We recognize the struggles of the first half, but to go into the break with some momentum is something that we're hopeful that we'll continue to build on," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We haven't conceded anything. We know that there's a little bit of a hole to climb out of, but this is a confident group that's playing well right now."

Farrell reflected on the biggest surprises and disappointments of the first half for the reigning World Series champs.

"The biggest disappointment is our record," Farrell said. "There's a few things that contribute to that. The biggest surprise is collectively, the level that we've been able to produce runs, and individually, the emergence of Brock Holt."

Holt has been the most consistent of the rookies who have played well, giving the Red Sox reason to be optimistic about the future. On Sunday, Holt had Boston's first five-hit game in more than four years.

Holt's consistency in the leadoff spot alongside his ability to play a wide variety of positions has given Farrell flexibility to tweak the roster and seek catalysts for success.

If catcher Christian Vazquez can even closely approach his production through his first three games, he will join Holt as a major bright spot. The last rookie Red Sox catcher before Vazquez to post back-to-back multi-RBI games?

Carlton Fisk in 1972.

Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley, Jr., also have shown glimpses of greatness in their rookie campaigns.

"We've got some talented young players that bring energy and enthusiasm," Farrell said. "Because there's some newness to it, I think it energizes everyone in our uniform. But regardless of what our roster is comprised of, our goal is the same. That's to go out and win and hopefully, get to the point where we're playing in the postseason."

Farrell clearly is not ready to write off the Red Sox in 2014.

At nine games under .500, the Red Sox have their worst record at the All-Star break since 1997 when Jimy Williams was the manager, Nomar Garciaparra was a rookie and Tim Duncan was freshly stolen from the Celtics two weeks prior.

On the bright side for the Red Sox, the AL East is pretty bad, collectively having one of its worst seasons in recent memory. At the conclusion of Sunday's game, the Sox were just nine games out of first place with 67 games remaining.

"What we hope to accomplish is to dig out of the hole that we're in right now and to make movement north in our division with the thought that we're able to contend," Farrell said. "That's not out of our minds right now."

Call him crazy, but if the starting rotation can continue to improve the way it has across the last few weeks, Farrell's team might have a chance.

[+] EnlargeClay Buchholz
Bob Levey/Getty ImagesClay Buchholz gets a hug from catcher Christian Vazquez after striking out a career-high 12 in a three-hit shutout.
Granted, the Red Sox were playing the Houston Astros, who rank 23rd in runs and second-to-last in batting average. But after Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz delivered their best starts of the season on back-to-back days, things are looking up.

Buchholz's three-hit shutout helped him shave nearly a run off his earned run average. He entered Sunday with a 6.11 ERA and walked out of Minute Maid Park with a 5.42 mark. He credited the improvement over his last few starts to sharpened command of his secondary pitches.

Buchholz said when he first returned from the disabled list, he was relying heavily on just two pitches. On Sunday, everything was working.

For a pitcher, the difference is massive.

"It's night and day," Buchholz said. "It's tough going out in a big league baseball game with just two pitches across multiple innings. It makes it a lot tougher on yourself, and I've done a lot of work to get command of those pitches back."

He was greeted in the tunnel outside the clubhouse by a large gathering of family and friends who made the trip from his nearby hometown of Nederland. When asked how many supporters he had on hand for his first game in Minute Maid Park since high school select ball, he didn't even try to guess.

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"I have no idea," Buchholz said. "A lot. More than 20 ... it's pretty neat."

It was a triumphant return to the top that took a long and winding road. He said he hasn't doubted himself since 2008, but this season hasn't been easy on him.

"I've come back before from being really bad," Buchholz said. "It's a matter of confidence, and you can't get confidence without results. It takes a day like the last three games I've pitched to keep building confidence, and today was the cherry on top."

If confidence is what the Red Sox need to start winning, they'll have another good chance to gain some when they return from the All-Star break to host the 48-46 Kansas City Royals.

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 11, Astros 0

July, 13, 2014
7/13/14
5:52
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HOUSTON -- Clay Buchholz delivered his best start of the season Sunday, and the Red Sox didn't even really need it.

A day after Jake Peavy pitched his best game of the season and only got two runs of support and his eighth straight loss to show for it, the Red Sox gave Buchholz more than enough support in an 11-0 blowout over the Houston Astros.

In a departure from their one-run nail-biters of late, it was the Red Sox's widest margin of victory of the season. They enter the All-Star break having won four of their last five games.

Playing about 90 miles from his hometown of Nederland, Buchholz pitched a dazzling shutout, allowing just three hits, zero walks, while recording a career-high 12 strikeouts. He retired the last 17 batters he faced in the dominant performance.

On a day when Buchholz only needed one run of support to win, the Red Sox gave him much more than that.

The Red Sox poured runs on the Astros, and they did it without a whole lot of what Farrell has been preaching for weeks -- timely hitting.

The final score wasn't as lopsided as the final hits category, which ended at 16-3. After Mike Napoli was the only hitter in the starting lineup to go hitless on Saturday, David Ortiz was the lone goose egg on Sunday, as he went 0-for-4 with two walks and one RBI.

The Red Sox knocked Houston starter Brad Peacock out of the game just one out in, as Brock Holt led off with a home run and the Red Sox loaded the bases early. Houston burned through five relievers, and the Red Sox touched just about every one of them in the hitting clinic.

Holt stays hot: Brock Holt has hit well pretty much everywhere he has played since his May call-up, but he really liked Houston. A few miles down the road from where he spent a year playing college ball at Rice University, Holt destroyed the Astros in the series, going 10-for-15 and hitting for the cycle across three games, collecting two RBIs and scoring four runs. He was 5-for-6 on Sunday with two runs scored and an RBI.

Ducks on the pond: Although the Red Sox scored 11 runs, they could have scored a whole lot more. They stranded 11 runners on base and hit into five double plays.

Walking the line: Several players were asked after Saturday's game if it felt like they were pressing and trying too hard to make things happen. If their patience at the plate is any indication, the Red Sox couldn't be much more relaxed. They drew eight walks on Sunday, nearing the season high of 10, and rank second in the majors in walks, trailing only Oakland.

Vazquez going bananas: After Friday's three-hit breakout performance where he collected his first major-league hit, catcher Christian Vazquez said, "After the first one, they come in like bananas." On Sunday, Vazquez picked up two more hits along with two RBIs.

Buchholz starts will bookend break

July, 13, 2014
7/13/14
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HOUSTON -- While Red Sox manager John Farrell said Sunday he's still not ready to name his American League All-Star starting pitcher, he was ready to unveil his rotation for the Red Sox when the club returns from the break.

Farrell said the rotation will vary only slightly, starting out on Friday against Kansas City with Clay Buchholz, who pitches Sunday in Houston. He will be followed by Rubby De La Rosa, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy.

"The two guys with the least amount of innings so far are going to lead us out of the break," Farrell said. "We looked at the matchups and felt like this would be the best combination of things."

Buchholz enters Sunday's start with the worst ERA among Red Sox starters in the rotation at 6.11. De La Rosa is at 2.89, Lester is at 2.65, Lackey is at 3.79 and Peavy is second-worst at 4.59 at the break.

* Farrell said Shane Victorino could possibly play in Sunday's "Futures at Fenway" game with Lowell after being a late scratch from his start on Saturday.

"He got scratched by the recommendation of the medical staff," Farrell said. "They just felt that it was best to hold him out and give him a day off and get him back on the field at Fenway today."

Victorino -- who has been on the disabled list since May 24 with a right hamstring sprain -- is 0-for-4 with the Spinners and has yet to get a hit in his minor league rehab assignment.

"I'm well aware of that," Farrell said. "We want a healthy player, and we want a productive player as well. This will all be part of the discussion when it's time to activate him."

Farrell said the club aims to have Victorino back for the upcoming series against Kansas City.

* If the American League holds a tight lead late in Tuesday night's All-Star game at Target Field in Minneapolis, would Farrell be willing to use his own closer, Koji Uehara?

"We've got a number of guys we can pick from that are all pretty darn good," Farrell said. "We're obligated to get as many guys onto the field that we can and yet, still obligated to try to win the game."

Farrell named Uehara to the All-Star roster on Wednesday to replace injured New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Farrell said Uehara is one of the more understated pitchers on the roster, despite his 18 saves and 1.65 ERA. Despite a few rough appearances across the last month, Uehara posted a 0.57 ERA over his first 31 games this season.

Farrell suggested the 39-year-old closer might not be mentioned among the elite closers simply because of his pitching style.

"I think it's directly related to velocity," Farrell said. "Because the numbers he puts up are as dominant as anyone else with the typical closer power stuff. Because Koji throws 88-90 mph, he's not going to have the cache that a mid-to-upper-90s guy might have, but he's no less effective."

After a breakout night on Friday, rookie catcher Christian Vazquez is back in the lineup Sunday, batting ninth.

Here's the full lineup:
1. Brock Holt, RF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Mike Napoli, 1B
5. Daniel Nava, LF
6. Jackie Bradley, Jr., CF
7. Xander Bogaerts, 3B
8. Stephen Drew, SS
9. Christian Vazquez, C

Sox offense can't get much worse

July, 8, 2014
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BOSTON -- Ten takeaways from Yawkey Way, where the ticket scalpers are wondering if they’ll be eligible to collect unemployment:

10. Pitching and politicking
Impressive enough that Chicago White Sox right-hander Scott Carroll, whose big league debut was delayed until age 29 by Tommy John surgery and hip problems, held the Boston Red Sox to one hit in 6 2/3 innings -- A.J. Pierzynski’s ground-ball single to right leading off the third.

But in the midst of pitching, Carroll also did some electioneering. Inside the brim of his cap, he wrote “Vote for Sale,” in support of Chicago lefty Chris Sale, who is on the “Last Man” ballot for the All-Star Game.

Even the Kennedy machine never pulled that one off.

Carroll was a quarterback at Purdue before transferring to Missouri State. Bonus points if you can name the former Red Sox star who went to Missouri State (it was known as Southwest Missouri State when he attended) before picking up a World Series ring. (Answer below)

9. Penalty kicks, anyone?
The Sox have been shut out nine times this season, which puts them on a pace to be blanked 16 times, which would be their most shutouts since 1990. That team, amazingly enough, went to the playoffs.

Only two teams in Sox history have been shut out more than that -- the 1917 club (23 times) and the ‘74 team (17).

8. A race to the finish?
Well, maybe not the one you were hoping for. After Monday’s loss, the Sox have a double-digit deficit in the AL East for the first time this season, trailing the Baltimore Orioles by 10 games.

But this race is a bit closer:







The 2014 Sox are on a pace to go 71-91. That’s only two games better than the 2012 fiasco (69-93).

7. Signs of frustration, I
David Ortiz grounded out in each of his first three at-bats. He made a right turn to the dugout about two-thirds of the way down the line on the first, pulled up just short of the bag on the second, then barely made it to the base-running channel, bat still in hand, before making another right turn on the last.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ortiz
Darren McCollester/Getty ImagesDavid Ortiz didn't get the ball out of the infield on an 0-for-3 night.
After the game, Ortiz made a quick exit through the media horde, head down, shades in place.

“I think there’s a shared frustration,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “We all wear it. We all win together, we lose together. I can tell you this: We didn’t give at-bats away tonight.”

I can tell you this: They gave the White Sox outfield the night off. Of Boston’s 27 outs Monday night, 23 came either via strikeout (5) or ground ball (18). Right fielder Dayan Viciedo did not have a putout all night. Center fielder Adam Eaton had one, left fielder Alejandro De Aza three.

6. Signs of frustration, II
Mild-mannered Clay Buchholz, who has shown marked improvement since his return from a forced hiatus, will talk about the home runs he has given up -- two on Monday night, a solo shot by Adam Dunn, a three-run shot by Viciedo in the fourth, both crushed -- but refused to expound on the Sox's offense.

“I’m done talking about the offense,” he said. “It’s not like they’re out there not trying. It’s not working.”

Maybe Clay Buchholz just doesn’t want to rub it in that he has the highest batting average on the team. He had a hit in his only at-bat, in Atlanta, and is batting 1.000.

5. Fan indifference?
What would have been the odds a month ago that prized rookie Xander Bogaerts could walk onto Yawkey Way within a half hour after a game was over and not be mobbed by autograph seekers?

But there was Bogaerts, accompanied by a friend, looking like just another college kid with a back pack, blending into the crowd and walking down the street unbothered. That comes with the territory, apparently, when you’re batting just .107 (11-for-103) since June 4.

Before he left the park, Bogaerts was a postgame visitor in Farrell’s office, but contrary to what you might think, there was no demotion in the offing. Farrell made that clear before the game.

“The one thing we have to do is be consistent with him, and he feels and senses the positive view of him,” Farrell said. “This is a long-term player for us and we’re not going to abandon someone because there are some growing pains along the way.”

Bogaerts had a couple of hits in Sunday’s 7-6 loss, the Monster taking a home run away from him and converting it into a single, but he was 0-for-3 Monday.

4. Bullish on JBJ
Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. had Boston’s other hit, an eighth-inning single off reliever Javy Guerra, and in his previous at-bat drew a walk and stole second. He was the only Sox player to reach second base all night.

[+] EnlargeClay Buchholz
David Butler II/USA TODAY SportsAlthough Clay Buchholz gave up two home runs, he can't be blamed for this loss.
In his past nine games, in addition to his highlight reel defense, Bradley is batting .333 (10-for-30), including three doubles. His overall average has climbed to .220; it was .205 on June 23.

“I’d like to see Jackie’s average the last two to three weeks, he’s swinging the bat really well,” catcher David Ross said. “Better at-bats, multiple hits, and he’s obviously a phenomenal center fielder.”

3. Trade winds
The St. Louis Cardinals sent a scout to watch Jake Peavy pitch Sunday. St. Louis, remember, came close to dealing for Peavy before the Sox swooped in hours before the trading deadline. Felix Doubront pitched a couple of innings of scoreless relief Tuesday and should have appeal to teams looking for left-handed help.

2. Dyin’ for Dayan?
Viciedo, meanwhile, was the name floated by yours truly last week as a right-handed power bat the Sox might look at as help not only for this season, but next. The home run was his 11th of the season; the entire Sox outfield has hit a dozen this season, two since June 1.

1. Coming attractions
Will Middlebrooks singled in a run in three trips Monday night in Pawtucket and should be positioning himself for a return soon. Shane Victorino restarts the clock on his rehab assignment Wednesday in Lowell. Rubby De La Rosa has not officially been named to start Wednesday’s game against the White Sox, but he’s lined up to do so. End of Mookie time for now? Stay tuned.

Trivia Answer: The Missouri State alum from the question above? Bill Mueller.

Buchholz: 'It's good to be back'

June, 26, 2014
6/26/14
2:33
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SEATTLE -- So simple. So true. For Clay Buchholz. And for the Red Sox.

"It’s good," Buchholz said, "to be back."

Thirty days after he trudged off the mound a beaten and bewildered man in Atlanta, Buchholz returned to the Red Sox rotation Wednesday night and immediately made good on his pledge to salvage the remainder of what has been a traumatic season for him.

Buchholz, working quickly, confidently and aggressively, survived a two-homer second inning and a three-homer night to subdue the Seattle Mariners, the Red Sox claiming the final game of a three-game set 5-4 before a crowd of 27,333 in Safeco Field.

[+] EnlargeClay Buchholz
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesClay Buchholz didn't looked thrilled after being pulled in the eighth, but manager John Farrell said Buchholz was outstanding.
Besides avoiding a sweep by the Mariners, who had won four straight and for now can make a better claim for a spot in the October tournament than the Sox can, the implications of Buchholz’s performance were unmistakable.

"If Clay’s right, he’s going to be great for us," said A.J. Pierzynski, who guided Buchholz through 7⅓ innings, the longest of his 11 starts this season and one in which he threw just 76 pitches. "He’s won a lot of games at this level."

The low pitch count was (1) a remarkable exercise in efficiency and (2) a testament to how eager the Mariners were to swing the bats. Manager John Farrell had no qualms about sending Buchholz out to start the eighth, although he came with the hook after Brad Miller hit a first-pitch home run to open the inning and Stefen Romero followed with a liner sliced to left that Jonny Gomes corralled with a diving catch on the track.

"He was outstanding," Farrell said. "With the exception of a three-hitter span [Kyle Seager homer, Logan Morrison single, Mike Zunino homer], he really settled in from the third inning on. I thought that the seventh inning was probably the best of the night, when he really felt comfortable with his changeup."

Seager, who had eight hits in the series, had smoked a changeup for his second home run in two nights to lead off the second. But in the seventh, Buchholz rang up his first two strikeouts of the night on changeups, Morrison and Zunino both missing off-speed offerings.

Buchholz had good life on both his four-seam and two-seam fastball -- averaging 93 mph on each and maxing out at 94.9 on his four-seamer -- and, while he still relied primarily on a fastball/cutter mix, he worked in enough of his other pitches to keep Seattle hitters off balance.

"Fundamentally, he was more compact over the rubber and in control of his body," Farrell said. "He looked confident. He looked relaxed. He was able to make pitches with four different types of pitches."

The Mariners tested Buchholz again in the sixth, with leadoff singles by Endy Chavez and James Jones, but Buchholz induced Robinson Cano -- who brought a .375 career average (12-for-32) against Buchholz into the game -- to fly out to right, and Seager grounded into a shifted Stephen Drew, who stepped on second and fired to first for a double play.

Drew went 0-for-4 and is zero for his past 27, while Gomes struck out four times in a game for the first time since 2011 and the sixth time in his career. Yet, they both made meaningful defensive plays in this game.

"There are two L’s in this game: lumber and leather," Gomes said. "You might not have one, but you can always bring the other."

Brock Holt and Daniel Nava brought both, combining for five hits at the top of the order. Holt, playing first base for Mike Napoli (toe), ended the game with a nice backhanded scoop and flip to Koji Uehara to thwart a two-on threat. He also had two more hits and scored twice. Nava, reaching base three times for the second straight night, had three singles and also threw out the hot-hitting Seager from his knees after nearly making a diving catch of his liner.

Still, the night belonged to Buchholz, winning for the first time since May 2. He said before his start that he knows there is little he can do about a horrific ERA (which he lowered from 7.02 to 6.75) but said he is focused on making whatever positive contribution he can.

"I had a lot of faith in him," Gomes said. "It was nice to see him attack with his fastball. He’s got such a good one, and it moves so much he doesn’t even have to go to his off-speed. When he trusts his fastball, good things can happen."

Buchholz: Next start at big-league level

June, 22, 2014
6/22/14
4:02
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Right-hander Clay Buchholz said Sunday that he hasn't been told the specific day he'll be activated from the disabled list but that he knows his next start will definitely "be on the major league level" with the Red Sox.

Wednesday at Seattle appears to be the most likely day for Buchholz to be activated and return to the rotation. The Red Sox have yet to name a starting pitcher for that game, and manager John Farrell said the team won't make a roster move until Wednesday.

"We'll get there," Farrell said before Sunday's game against Oakland. "We know the first two days are spoken for with (John) Lackey and (Jake) Peavy. Beyond that Clay is certainly a candidate. But we recognize fully that we got to make a roster move to get him back active to us. That can come in any one of three ways. So we've still got a couple days to arrive at that."

Buchholz said he understands there's a "lot of moving parts" on the roster that the Red Sox are dealing with.

"I'm ready to go. I feel good," said Buchholz, who made two rehab starts for Triple-A Pawtucket and is on the DL with a hyperextended left knee.

Buch 'starting over'; Vic taking it slow

June, 20, 2014
6/20/14
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Right-hander Clay Buchholz doesn't know when he'll be activated from the disabled list and rejoin the rotation, but he joined the Boston Red Sox on Friday in Oakland, one day after an encouraging rehab star for Triple-A Pawtucket.

"I haven't been told anything, but obviously this is where I want to be," Buchholz said before the Red Sox's game against the Oakland Athletics. "I want to be here battling with the guys and I feel like whenever I'm right mechanically and everything's tuned in, I give the team a chance to win when I'm on the mound. All the numbers that I had from this year, from the beginning of the year to my last start, I'm going to just forget about them. I'm starting over."

Buchholz went 2-4 with a 7.02 ERA in 10 starts before going on the disabled list with a hyperextended left knee on May 28. In his second rehab start Thursday, he allowed two hits, struck out five, walked two and threw 87 pitches over six shutout innings.

"I felt good," Buchholz said. "Everything was good. I was able to carry over some of the stuff I've been working on as far as delivery and mechanics. It worked out well. I was throwing strikes down in the zone and threw all my pitches. That's sort of what I got away from. That's where I wanted to get back to so I felt it was a good step in the right direction.

"I could have thrown 87 the first time out. That was one of the things that I wasn't having to battle with. It wasn't an arm fatigue or arm strength issue. They just wanted me to take my time, to take a couple starts to get up and down, up to five or six innings and I was able to do that yesterday."

Red Sox manager John Farrell said he won't make a decision about Buchholz until the end of his team's four-game series against Oakland on Sunday. John Lackey is slated to pitch Monday at Seattle and Jake Peavy on Tuesday. Farrell said Wednesday's starter is TBA with "multiple options" to consider.

"I think the most important thing is we're getting guys back to us that are healthy and we do have a couple of important decisions coming up," Farrell said.

Jackie Bradley Jr. notched his eighth outfield assist Thursday night in the seventh inning when Oakland's speedy Coco Crisp was cut down at third base. He's tied for second in the major leagues, one behind A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes.

The Red Sox rookie leads all major league center fielders in assists. He has the most assists by a Red Sox center fielder since Carl Everett (11) in 2000. Since 1954, only Ellis Burks (15 assists, 1987) and Fred Lynn (11 in 1975) had more assists from center field as rookies.

Bradley is batting just .205, but he said he hasn't let his troubles at the plate affect his defense.

"Two different sides of baseball," Bradley said. "You definitely got to be able to separate them. Me and [Shane] Victorino talk about it all the time. If I don't get hits that day, anybody who hits the ball out to me ain't going to get any hits, either. So that's the mindset you got to go into it with.

"You might not have a good day offensively at the plate, but as long as you can affect the game defensively to help out the team, you're helping."

Bradley went 1-for-2 and doubled off A's left-hander Scott Kazmir in Thursday night's 4-2 loss. That was his 13th double of the season and one of just five Red Sox hits in the game.

"I feel fine," Bradley said. "Just continuously working, trying to get better. I feel good right now. Like everyone says, when things are going good you don't really think about mechanics, and when things aren't going so well people are always trying to think about mechanics.

"It's not necessarily about that. It's about getting back to feeling good and seeing the ball and putting good swings on strikes."

• Outfielder Victorino was out of the lineup for the second straight day for Triple-A Pawtucket during his rehab assignment because of stiffness in his right hamstring and lower back.

"More treatment today," Farrell said. "We're going to get his activity built back up. Hopefully that's tomorrow but if not we'll go day to day with when he's next available. ... We feel that what he's dealing with is not going to keep him out too long. We'll get back out on the field and back to us as soon as we can."

• Outfielder Grady Sizemore, who was designated for assignment Tuesday, cleared waivers Friday, becoming a free agent. Sizemore hit just .216 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 52 games with the Red Sox as he attempted to revive his injury-plagued career. He hit .133 in June. Now that he has cleared waivers, Sizemore could remain with the Red Sox at Triple-A, but he's free to sign with any team, and Farrell said it wouldn't surprise him if other teams were interested.

"He's a quality player that's still working his way back to regular play and normal strength," Farrell said.

Buchholz solid in second rehab start

June, 19, 2014
6/19/14
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Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz had an encouraging second rehab start on Thursday for Triple-A Pawtucket, pitching six scoreless innings and allowing just two hits. He threw 87 pitches, 51 for strikes, while registering five strikeouts and two walks in the PawSox's 8-6 loss to Rochester.

Buchholz, who has been on the disabled list since May 27 with a hyperextended knee, could be close to a return to Boston. Farrell said earlier this week that the plan was for Buchholz to work back up to around 90 pitches.

Before his DL stint, opponents were hitting .339 against Buchholz in 2014, far and away the worst average he’s allowed in his career (second highest is .299 in 2008). But he recently said that he's been working hard to make the needed tweaks in his delivery, and feels he's ready to return.

“I’ve worked hard on it,” he said last week. “Right at the beginning of the stuff you’re trying to fix or change you have to think about it, that’s why the bullpens help out a lot. And when it becomes second nature, that’s when you bring it into a game and not have to think about it. That’s where I feel like I’m at right now.”

Meanwhile, outfielder Shane Victorino and third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who are continuing their rehab with Pawtucket, were not in the lineup on Thursday.

In his weekly appearance on WEEI, Farrell said that Victorino was held back due to "stiffness." He went 0-for-2 and played right field in the first game of PawSox doubleheader in Rochester on Wednesday. Victorino has been on the DL since May 21 with a hamstring strain. The Sox had hoped he would rejoin the team on their West Coast road trip, but that seems unlikely now.

GM: Glut of starters 'good problem to have'

June, 17, 2014
6/17/14
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BOSTON -- The Red Sox still haven’t received word from Major League Baseball regarding starting pitcher Brandon Workman’s appeal of his six-game suspension handed out June 3. Farrell said that despite the lack of information, there has been no frustration with the situation.

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When all Red Sox starting pitchers are healthy, which two would you keep in the rotation?

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“We’ve communicated directly with Brandon to stay the course until deemed otherwise,” Farrell said. “We know his next scheduled start is Friday, we’ve got other options in place when we need to put those in motion. We’ll adjust when word comes down.”

The likely candidate to replace Workman if he is suspended is left-hander Felix Doubront (shoulder), who threw five hitless innings and struck out 10 in his third rehab start Sunday. Meanwhile, rehabbing right-hander Clay Buchholz (knee) is expected to make his second rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket Thursday.

As the return of Buchholz and Doubront approaches, Workman (six innings, two runs allowed Sunday against Cleveland) and Rubby De La Rosa (seven shutout innings Monday) appear the logical candidates to be sent down despite their recent strong performances. Cherington described the situation as “a good problem to have.”

“We’ll see where we are when we get to that point. We’re waiting on a number of things,” Cherington said. “We just have to wait on a few things before we make any decisions. If we have tough decisions or tough conversations to have, I’ll take those tough conversations as opposed to the alternative of not having any tough decisions.”

Buchholz's next rehab set for Thursday

June, 16, 2014
6/16/14
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BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz’s next rehab assignment will come Thursday with Triple-A Pawtucket, Red Sox manager John Farrell said Monday.

Buchholz, who served up two home runs and three earned runs over 4 2/3 innings at Pawtucket on Saturday, threw 62 pitches in his first outing. Farrell said the plan is for Buchholz, who has been on the disabled list since May 28 with a hyperextended knee, to work back up to around 90 pitches.

“An increased number of pitches,” Farrell replied when asked what he wanted to see out of Buchholz’s next appearance. “I think Clay went out and was able to accomplish, for the most part, some of the delivery adjustments he’d been working on. Overall, strikes were improved. We recognize what took place inside the line score, but overall, there was some more defined overall shape to the pitches.”

* With Buchholz still having work to do, Farrell didn’t rule out Felix Doubront’s return for this weekend’s kickoff to the West Coast trip in Oakland. With Brandon Workman’s six-game suspension status yet to be resolved, there’s a chance Doubront could slide into Workman’s spot temporarily.

However, Farrell also didn’t foresee Workman capitulating on his suspension appeal “this far in” as the club awaits Major League Baseball’s decision, which should come early this week.

“That’s another thing I feel is out of my hands,” Workman said on Sunday. “We did the appeal, we stated our case and after that it’s in somebody else’s hands to make that decision, so I try not to focus on it too much.”

* Farrell commented on the passing of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who died Monday at the age of 54. While on the Cleveland Indians’ coaching staff, Farrell crossed paths with Gwynn during spring training in Arizona.

“He made hitting an art with the way he did over a long and successful career,” Farrell said.

Gwynn battled cancer and believed his use of smokeless tobacco was a contributing factor.

“I can’t give you an exact number on how many guys choose to use chewing tobacco,” Farrell said. “All are assuming a certain level of risk. I think when something like this happens today -- and whether or not it’s directly related to smokeless tobacco -- it makes everybody in the game, I think, take pause.”

Next step for Buchholz still unclear

June, 15, 2014
6/15/14
12:40
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BOSTON -- Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz on Sunday said he felt good after working his first rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket Saturday afternoon at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, R.I.

The right-hander tossed 4 2/3 innings and allowed three runs on four hits, including a pair of solo home runs. As of early Sunday morning, Buchholz and Farrell had not discussed the pitcher’s next step.

“Overall strike throwing was improved. Report on just sheer arm strength and velocity was increased,” Farrell said of Buchholz’s outing.

Since Buchholz threw only 62 pitches on Saturday, Farrell said the team will take that into consideration when deciding the next step.

* Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino and third baseman Will Middlebrooks are in Boston for Sunday's game, but both will return to Pawtucket to continue their rehab stints Monday.

On Saturday in Pawtucket, Victorino (hamstring) went 0-for-2 and played five innings in right field. Middlebrooks (finger) went 1-for-3 as the PawSox DH. On Monday, Victorino will increase his workload. Farrell also said once Middlebrooks is healthy, there’s a possibility he will get a look in the outfield.

“Our intent is to get him back in the flow of things playing at those two positions, that would be at third base and at DH,” Farrell said. “Once we get into the rehab progress or plan a week to 10 days, we may take a look at him in the outfield just to answer any questions of flexibility that we can before a decision on the roster is to be made. If that gives us ability to find at-bats for Will if he were to come back here in that capacity, so be it.”

Buchholz goes 4 2/3 in first rehab start

June, 14, 2014
6/14/14
7:13
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BOSTON -- Making his first rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday afternoon, Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz showed that he might not be ready to return to the major league rotation just yet.

Facing the Charlotte Knights (Chicago White Sox affiliate) with a plan in place to go five innings, Buchholz made it through only 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits, including two solo home runs. He threw 62 pitches, 42 for strikes, striking out five and walking none.

The start was Buchholz's first since May 26, when he walked eight Atlanta Braves in three innings pitched. He was placed on the disabled list with a hyperextended left knee two days later.

In the same game Saturday, rehabbing outfielder Shane Victorino (hamstring) went 0-for-2, playing five innings in right field, and third baseman Will Middlebrooks (finger) went 1-for-3 with a strikeout while serving as the designated hitter.

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