Buchholz: 'Felt good' in first Grapefruit League start

Buchholz: 'Felt good' in first Grapefruit League start
March 2, 2013, 5:00 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – One of the keys new Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves has been preaching this has been the importance of first-pitch strikes. And, while Clay Buchholz had an abbreviated outing Saturday afternoon against the Twins, that was one of the things he was able to accomplish.
 
Buchholz, making his first Grapefruit League start this spring, went 1 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and two walks with two strikeouts.  He threw 40 pitches, 22 strikes, including first-pitch strikes to six of the seven batters he faced.
 
Buchholz had been delayed earlier this spring when he strained his right hamstring on Feb. 12, the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers.  He had been scheduled to pitch two innings, throwing about 35 pitches.  His outing was cut short when he got past that pitch count. But, at this point in the spring, it’s not just about the numbers.
 
“He used all his pitches,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “First time on the mound, I think with each added inning -- he likes to pitch with a constant mix, using all his pitches – I think with repetition, sharpness will come. No ill effects with the hamstring. So a good day of work.”
 
Buchholz, who was not involved in the decision as the Sox beat the Twins, 2-1, was satisfied with his outing.
 
“It was good to get out there,” he said. “Everything felt good.  I was little amped up at the beginning. Left a couple pitches up in the zone and lost a couple hitters in some counts that we’d like to either let them get themselves out or put them away. But given the fact that this was the first time out, I was happy with everything. Felt like the ball was coming out of my hand good, and used just about all my pitches.”
 
Buchholz threw 25 pitches in the first inning, 14 for strikes. He opened the game by retiring Joe Benson on a called third strike, before walking Jamey Carroll and giving up a single to Joe Mauer. But he got Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau to fly out to Mitch Maier in center to end the inning.
 
In the second he struck out Ryan Doumit, looking, then walked Chris Parmelee, ending his outing, giving way to Alfredo Aceves.
 
Some of the issues he had in this outing will likely be correctable over the course of the spring.
 
“He had good overall stuff,” said one scout in attendance. “But he opens too quick and loses direction to the plate causing an inconsistent release point and ability to control the ball. Some normal mechanical things he can and adjust and fix.”
 
“He had a good curveball but he was having trouble throwing it for strikes,” said another scout. “He had good life on his fastball.  He’s OK for where we’re at in spring training.”
 
Buchholz seconded that sentiment.
 
“Yeah, this camp’s going to be a little bit longer than usual,” he said. “The results right now are not really something that anybody’s looking at. As we get into going deeper into games, four and five innings in the last couple spring training games, I think that’s whenever all your pitches should be in form  of being able to start the season. Until it gets to that point I’m just going out there trying to maintain my delivery and just use all my pitches.”