On Buchholz's balk

On Buchholz's balk
June 19, 2012, 7:42 pm
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Josh Beckett. Daniel Bard. David Ortiz. Kelly Shoppach. Adrian Gonzalez. Dustin Pedroia. Kevin Youkilis. Carl Crawford. Jacoby Ellsbury.

This season, at one point or another, every guy listed above has been used as an example of whats wrong with the Red Sox. Whether its their performance on the field, how they carry themselves off it, or things theyve said to the media, each player in his own way has come to define the selfishness and entitlement that many believe has left Bostons clubhouse burnt beyond recognition and in desperate need of cleansing.

This week, its Clay Buchholz's turn in the grinder.

Admittedly, the backlash against Buchholz for refusing to pitch on Sunday night is nothing compared to the firestorm that some of his teammates have faced. Mostly, because its not that big of a deal. Still, if you listen closely enough, there are plenty of people moaning about Buchholzs balk. Who cite his refusal to step up in place of Josh Beckett as just another reason to hate this team; another piece of unmitigable evidence as to why Ben Cherington should have a deadline fire sale and re-start the Sox from scratch.

In a way, I understand the animosity. After all, its not like they were asking Clay to pitch on three days rest, or even four. It was five days; his normal schedule. And the team was clearly in need of a lift why else would they ask at all?

But for those hating on Buchholz, there are a few things to consider:

In his five previous seasons, he's thrown more than 100 innings only once.

With 12 more innings this season, Buchholz will have thrown 92.1, which will mark the second highest total of his entire career and we're barely halfway through June.

In his four previous starts, he's thrown 111, 108, 125 and 103 pitches. It's only the third time in his career that he's had a stretch of four (or more) starts with 100-plus pitches, and the first time since 2010.

Earlier this season, he watched the Sox push Beckett a little harder than many people believed they should most notably, in his 126-pitch effort against the White Sox on April 29 and now Beckett's on the DL with a sore shoulder.

Buchholz is less than year removed from a back injury and subsequent back surgery that destroyed his 2011 season.

So, in a perfect world, do you wish that Buchholz barged into Bobby V's hotel room in Chicago and demanded the ball on Sunday night? Yeah, sure. Of course you do.

But can you understand why Buchholz wanted to stay focused, on schedule meaning the schedule he'd been operating under since walking off the mound last week in Miami and continue to build upon this remarkable mid-season turn around?

I can.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine