Buchholz struggles . . . but says it's not a bad thing

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Buchholz struggles . . . but says it's not a bad thing

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Clay Buchholz faced a little bit of adversity, in his words, Friday afternoon against the Tigers at City of Palms Park. He faced 19 batters in 4 13 innings, with eight reaching base. His only clean inning was the fourth.

But adversity is a relative term, especially in spring training. The kind he faced in this game, an 8-3 loss to Detroit, was nothing compared to that he faced several seasons ago.

Which is why Buchholz handles it with aplomb.

"I struggled with command with every pitch, Buchholz said. I could never get comfortable on the mound. Trying to make adjustments with my release point and went to both ends of the spectrum. Definitely not one of my best outings. Faced a little bit of adversity with runners on in just about every inning. You learn from it. Its still spring. Have a couple more outings and I'll go from there.

In three previous outings, spanning nine innings, Buchholz had allowed no runs on five hits and two walks, with six strikeouts. Facing some spring training adversity can be beneficial.

"It's good, he said. It's always good to get through without having someone get past second base, but there are going to be times when you struggle with innings, with guys at second with one out -- and you have to get out of that situation. It's good to go through them and sense what you need to do. I'd like to execute pitches a little bit better.

According to one scout in attendance, Buchholz looked like he was too concerned with the runners. But his changeup was good.

I thought he wasnt as sharp as hes been in a couple of his previous outings, said another scout. It looked like he was getting squeezed by the plate umpire a little bit. But he left some pitches up. He just wasnt as crisp as his other outings.

Buchholz gave up three runs, one earned, one five hits and two walks with a strikeout. Another batter, Austin Jackson in the fifth inning, reached on Kevin Youkilis first error of the spring.

I thought he fought his command a little bit today, right from the beginning, said manager Terry Francona. But he increased his workload by about 20 pitches, which is good. Hes got two more starts. I just think he didnt command as good as he normally will.

Still, Buchholz kept the game in check. He induced a groundball from Clete Thomas to get the rare 1-3-5 double play to end the first inning. The right-hander left in the fifth with the scored tied, no outs and two runners on. Hideki Okajima came in and allowed four runs in the inning -- all unearned courtesy of errors by Youkilis and Adrian Gonzalez, the first of the spring for both with two runs charged to Buchholz.

I think he normally does keep the game in check, Francona said. In spring training that happens. I just think his arm strength, building his endurance, and then again as he progresses, hell be more comfortable. I just thought it was a day where it wasnt bad or anything. I just thought he fought to find his location a little bit.

Buchholz said he feels good at this point in the spring, but noticed some fatigue today.

I feel good. Body felt a little dead today, he said. I tried to get through some stuff, but it's getting to the point in spring training where the body is getting into a little bit of a dead phase. But it always seems to come back in the last week or so."

In his remaining spring outings, Buchholz will get to about 85 to 90 pitches before facing the Rangers in the third game of the season.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

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Rosenthal: 'Some' Sox players question Farrell's leadership, game management

Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal ignited a local firestorm when he made a seemingly off-hand comment a few days ago that he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Red Sox fired John Farrell this year. (He quickly added he also "wouldn't be surprised" if Farrell stayed on and led the team to the A.L. East title this year, but that got scant mention.)

Today, however, Rosenthal expounded on Farrell and the Sox in a lengthy column on foxsports.com. While acknowledging the team's injuries and beyond-the-manager's-control inconsistencies (in the starting rotation and with the offense), he also ominously added, "The excuses for the Sox, though, go only so far — all teams deal with injuries, and not all of them boast $200 million payrolls. Other issues also have emerged under Farrell . . . "

Farrell, even when he won the 2013 World Series as a rookie manager, was not popular in all corners of the clubhouse. Some players, but not all, believe that he does not stand up for them strongly enough to the media when the team is struggling, sources say. Some also question Farrell’s game management, talk that exists in virtually every clubhouse, some more than others.

And then he mentioned two leadership problems:

The first occurred during the Red Sox’s prolonged dispute with the Orioles’ Manny Machado. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, after Matt Barnes threw at Machado’s head, shouted across the field to Machado, 'it wasn’t me,' then told reporters that it was 'definitely a mishandled situation,' without mentioning Barnes or Farrell by name . . . 

The second incident occurred last Saturday, when Farrell engaged in a heated exchange with left-hander Drew Pomeranz in the dugout . . . [Pomeranz's] willingness to publicly challenge Farrell, in an exchange captured by television cameras, offered another indication that the manager and some of his players are not always on the same page.

Hmm.

Rosenthal's piece comes at a time when some of Farrell's harshest local critics are more or less giving him a pass, instead blaming Dave Dombrowski's flawed roster construction for the Sox' early season struggles , , , 

But there has been speculation hereabouts on whether or not Farrell has control of the clubhouse . . . 

Now that Rosenthal has weighed in, that sort of talk should increase.

In the end, Rosenthal makes no prediction on Farrell's future other than to conclude "If Dombrowski senses a change is necessary, he’ll make a change." 

But one prediction that can be made: The should-Farrell-be-fired? debate, which raged at unrealistic levels last year when the Red Sox won the division, isn't going to end anytime soon.