DETROIT -- Sunday afternoon, for the first time since last June, Clay Buchholz will take the mound and pitch in a game of consequence.
"Yeah, it's been a while,'' acknowledged Buchholz, who missed the final 3 12 months of 2011 with a stress fracture of his lower back. "Going through spring, working to get to a point where I can throw consecutive innings, getting the ups and downs and pitch counts and everything, it's more of a relaxed state of mind, knowing that everything's fine."
"I don't have to worry about anything other than going out there and executing pitches and trying to help this team win. My thought process is that it's just another game that I have to go out and pitch.''
Buchholz was relieved to enjoy good health over the course of spring training. He was able to focus on preparation, just as he would any other spring.
"It was re-assuring through spring,'' he said, "with the number of pitches that I threw, that I didn't have to miss anything. Just going from start-to-start and day-to-day and feeling good about it -- that's what spring training is for. Hopefully, I can make every start from here on out.''
As far as Buchholz knows, there will be no limit to his workload.
"The last couple of seasons, if the freak things that happened hadn't happened,'' he said, "I had put myself in a position to (go 200 innings). That's my goal at the beginning of every season -- to go out and make your 33 or 34 starts and get to that 200-inning plateau.''