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."