Buchholz's strong spring continues vs. Blue Jays

Buchholz's strong spring continues vs. Blue Jays
March 12, 2013, 6:45 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. --  In his third Grapefruit League start, Clay Buchholz went four scoreless innings against a Blue Jays lineup that included Jose Bautista batting third and playing right field. Buchholz gave up three hits with no walks and a strikeout.
 
He faced 14 batters, two over the minimum, and got eight groundball outs, including a double play to end the third with runners on first and second.
 
“Better tempo once again, consistent with his last outing,” said manager John Farrell.
 
“I think any time we see Clay putting the ball on the ground, he’s got a sinker, he’s got his late action pitches working down in the zone,” Farrell said. “And that was the case again today. Key double play ball for him. And I think as we’ve seen his evolution as a starting pitcher, as he’s gone to that two-seamer, it really puts him in a good position to not only be efficient but when he needs to, get a groundball double play as the case was today.”
 
Buchholz, too, has noticed the difference.
 
“Everything is good,” he said. “That’s been my No. 1 key as of late, getting on the rubber and throwing a pitch and getting back up there. Just to make the game go a little bit quicker and not have to think too much. Just getting the ball and trying to go after it.”

Buchholz was pleased with his outing. In 8 1/3 outings this spring, Buchholz has yet to give up a run.

“Everything is starting to fall together,” he said. “I was able to go out there and execute pitches, like one after another, a little bit better than the last time out and the time before that. I feel like it’s all coming together for the spring, getting up and down a little bit more and the next time when I go out it’ll be five innings. It’s starting to feel more real now.

“I was able to throw a fastball for a strike. Strike one has been big. Didn’t do it to a couple of guys today. But I was able to get back into the count with a cutter or a two-seamer to get them to roll over or some weak contact. That has sort of been the name of the game for me the past three times out. Been able to throw a four-seamer and two-seamer to both sides of the plate and get ahead.”
 
Getting that contact, though, has cut down on the number of strikeouts he’s gotten. Buchholz had just one strikeout in this game, Colby Rasmus leading off the third inning, and has just seven this season.

“Once I get to two strikes then I can try to strike somebody out,” he said. “But you can’t strike ‘em out if they’re, you know, it seems especially when I pitch against them the last couple of seasons they’ve been really aggressive to the fastball early in counts. They’re the same thing today. They swung the bat early, didn’t really get ahead of a whole lot of hitters with two strikes. Once I get to two strikes, then I can think about throwing an out pitch and getting a swing and miss or something looking. I think I threw [45] pitches. I’ll take a low pitch count over a high strikeout.”
 
Buchholz was slowed at the beginning of spring training by a hamstring strain on the first day of official workouts for pitchers and catchers. That’s all behind him now, he believes.
 
“I feel fine,” he said. “It happened the first day of camp. I knew I was only going to be about an inning behind everybody so I feel like I’m catching up to them and being able to go every five days. Once we get to that five-inning mark and go six and get up to 100 pitches late in spring, that’s sort of where you want to be anyway. I don’t really think I missed a whole lot.

“I feel comfortable with all my pitches. There’s not one particular pitch I feel I need to work on more than the others. I think I’m right where I need to be right now.”