Buchholz looks ready to go after final spring start

Buchholz looks ready to go after final spring start
March 25, 2014, 6:45 pm
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- In his last Grapefruit League appearance of the spring -- his final tuneup Sunday will come in an simulated game -- Clay Buchholz was everything the Red Sox hope he'll be when the season starts: effective, efficient and, most of all, healthy.
     
Buchholz limited the Tampa Bay Rays to two runs over six innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out five. He got up to 84 pitches (50 for strikes).
     
"I felt like the stuff was good," said Buchholz, "and when I wanted a little extra on the fastball, I felt like I had something in the tank to reach back and throw it. Everything felt good today."
     
Buchholz had complained in earlier outings that he hadn't yet acquired a feel for his changeup, but he threw 8-to-10 on Tuesday and pronounced himself satisfied with a pitch that's a huge part of his regular-season repertoire.
     
"That was the first time I actually threw a changeup for a strike this spring," said Buchholz. "I had a couple of things I had to mess with -- the grip and everything. I think I was holding onto it a little too tight and that was causing it to be in the dirt every time. I felt a lot better with that."
     
John Farrell praised Buchholz for his ability to correct a mechanical flaw that saw him drifting a bit in his delivery over the first two innings. But what pleased Farrell most was how his starter looked.
     
"More than anything that stands out over the course of spring training is that he's pitching very comfortably on the mound," said Farrell.
     
Gone is the sight of Buchholz constantly rotating his right arm to get his shoulder loose, as happened in September and October. Gone, too, is the diminished velocity that forced Buchholz to rely almost exclusively on movement to get by.
     
This spring, Buchholz has sat comfortably from 90-92 mph with his fastball, with the ability to get another 2-3 mph when necessary.
     
And Buchholz has shown the consistent ability to get hitters to top the ball into the ground, producing routine groundouts. He had seven in six innings Tuesday.
     
"His two-seamer is such a weapon for him," said Farrell, "whether it's to put away a left=hander where he can bring it back over the inside part of the plate or move the ball off the bat head. He's creating a lot of late action through the strike zone with that and his cutter and I think that's what gives him a lot of confidence, knowing he can pitch in the bottom of the strike zone and get some early outs."