Buchholz: Sox returning with 'chip on our shoulder'

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Buchholz: Sox returning with 'chip on our shoulder'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Clay Buchholz wasn't even part of the September collapse for the 2011 Red Sox, but he knows the fallout will continue for a while this season.

"It is what it is,'' said the Red Sox starter, who missed the final three months of the season because of a stress fracture in his lower back. "I think that stuff is over and done with, but I know we're going to have to answer some questions here early.''

Buchholz tried to speed up his recovery process but could only watch as the team imploded, compiling a 7-20 September and forfeiting what had been a healthy wild-card lead.

"For the most part, either we didn't hit or we didn't pitch,'' he said, "and if you don't do either one of those things in a single month, it's not going to turn out well. I think everybody knows that. I think a lot of guys have come here with a chip on their shoulder about it. We want to do well and we want to do it in October, too.''

When asked about some of the unsavory off-field details that were revealed after the season -- including some starting pitchers eating chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse during games -- Buchholz suggested that was overblown.

"I think that was last year -- a couple of bad decisions here and there,'' he said. ''I think if we would have made the playoffs, it wouldn't have been that big of a topic. I think it was blown out of proportion a little bit. I think it's in the past. Everybody has learned from it. I think everybody's mental state is going to be a lot better starting here in the spring.''

Buchholz was part of a group of players who had dinner with new manager Bobby Valentine over the winter and thinks Valentine's style may be the perfect tonic for the Sox.

"I think it's going to be in a good way,'' he said. "He seems like he likes to have control of everybody and I think that's something that we need. Then again, he's a relaxed person, too, so it's going to fit in well with this clubhouse.

"Everybody here is a grown man. Everybody can take care of themselves. But sometimes when you veer off the path that you need to take, you need someone there to tell you, 'Hey, this is where we need to go and I see you doing this.' In that aspect, it's going to be good for us."

Like some of his other teammates, Buchholz was surprised the story of clubhouse behavior gained as much traction as it did.

"It's happened more than that in previous years,'' noted Buchholz, "but we did well then and it wasn't spoken about. The main issue is we didn't make the playoffs and that was just something for people to talk about.

"I didn't let it bother me too much. When you're in an offseason and people are still wanting to talk about things that happened four months ago that don't have anything to do with what you're doing now -- I think that bothered a couple of people. But it comes with the territory. We're major-league baseball players playing for the Boston Red Sox. You're going to have to fess up to your mistakes and go from there.''

Some five days before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report, all but a handful are already on hand. That's a good sign, Buchholz said.

"It's definitely a good thing,'' he said of the early attendance. "I think that's what we're expected to do, so I think that's why everybody does it. I've been ready to get back on a mound since September. It's good to see everybody here, good to see all the new faces that come in the clubhouse.

"I think we're going to have a really good team this year."

Patriots-Steelers game notes: Pats shooting for record ninth Super Bowl berth

Patriots-Steelers game notes: Pats shooting for record ninth Super Bowl berth

A quick look at the information you need to know about tonight's Patriots-Steelers game:

TEAM RECORDS: Patriots 15-2, Steelers 13- 5

GAME TIME: 6:40 p.m. EST

TV: CBS

TV ANNOUNCERS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson

NATIONAL RADIO NETWORKS: Westwood One

NATIONAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Kevin Harlan, Dan Fouts and Ross Tucker

LOCAL RADIO NETWORK: Anchored by WBZ-FM (98.5 The Sports Hub)

LOCAL RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Bob Socci and Scott Zolak

ALL-TIME SERIES BETWEEN THE TEAMS: Steelers lead, 15-14

LAST MEETING: Patriots 27, Steelers 16 on Oct. 23, 2016 at Heinz Field

* * * *
QUICK FACTS
-- Bill Belichick is coaching in his NFL-record 11th conference championship game. Tom Brady is playing in his NFL-record 11th conference championship game.

-- The Patriots are 8-4 in AFC Championship Games, including 5-1 in games played in Foxboro and 4-1 at Gillette Stadium.

-- The Patriots are 30-19 in postseason games, including 19-4 at home (3-1 at Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium, 16-3 at Gillette).

-- The Patriots' 30 postseason victories are tied with the 49ers for fourth-most in NFL history, behind the Cowboys (34), Steelers (34) and Packers (32).

-- The Patriots' .612 winning percentage in postseason games is third-best in NFL history, behind the Ravens (15-8, .652) and Packers (34-21, .618).

* * * *
MILESTONES
-- If the Patriots win today they will qualify for their ninth Super Bowl, most in NFL history. They are currently tied with the Cowboys, Broncos and Steelers at eight.

-- If the Patriots win today, Robert Kraft will set an NFL record for most conference championships by an owner (8) in the Super Bowl era. He is currently tied with the Denver Broncos' Pat Bowler at seven.

-- If the Patriots win today, Bill Belichick will move into a tie with Bill Walsh for third place on the NFL list of best postseason coaching winning percentage. Belichick (who would be 25-10 with a victory) and Walsh (10-4) would have .714 winning percentage. Belichick is currently in fifth place, two percentage points behind Joe Gibbs (17-7, .708). Vince Lombardi (9-1, .900) is in first place and Tom Flores (8-3. .727) is second.

-- If the Patriots win today, Belichick will advance to his seventh Super Bowl as a head coach, which would be most in NFL history. He is currently tied with Don Shula at six.

-- Tom Brady (8) needs one more playoff game with three or more touchdown passes to tie Joe Montana (9) for most three-plus TD playoff games since the 1970 NFL merger.

-- Stephen Gostkowski (142) needs 11 points to tie Gary Anderson for third place on the NFL's all-time list of kicking points in the postseason. Adam Vinatieri (234) is first and David Akers (175) is second.

-- Julian Edelman (76) needs nine receptions to tie Andre Reed (85) for sixth place on the NFL's all-time list of postseason receptions. Michael Irvin is fifth at 88, and Hines Ward and Wes Welker are tied for third at 88.

* * * *
TONIGHT'S OFFICIALS
-- REFEREE: Terry McAulay. UMPIRE: Rich Hall. HEAD LINESMAN: Wayne Mackie. LINE JUDGE: Mark Perlman. FIELD JUDGE: Scott Edwards. SIDE JUDGE: Boris Cheek. BACK JUDGE: Tony Steratore. ALTERNATES: John Parry, Mark Steinkerchner, Rich Martinez. REPLAY OFFICIAL: Mike Wimmer. SUPERVISOR: Gary Slaughter.

Brady goes back to high school for pregame social media post

Brady goes back to high school for pregame social media post

Tom Brady's pregame Facebook and Instagram post Sunday shows him wearing a different No. 12 uniform, that of Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif.

The Patriots quarterback, looking for his seventh Super Bowl trip Sunday night when he faces the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium in his and his team's sixth consecutive AFC Championship Game, posted the old photo and message on both his Facebook and newly opened Instagram accounts.

My family, my friends, my teammates, my coaches, Pats nation, my schools, our fans... I'm playing for you today. LET'S GO

Posted by Tom Brady on Sunday, January 22, 2017