Valentine seeing improvement with Buchholz

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Valentine seeing improvement with Buchholz

BOSTON Despite being one of just two starting Red Sox pitchers (with Felix Doubront) with a winning record, Clay Buchholz (2-1, 8.87 ERA) has struggled through most of his four starts this season. He earned a win in his last start, April 25 in Minnesota, when he went 5 13 innings, giving up five runs on 10 hits. He left with the bases loaded with all three runs eventually scoring.

Manager Bobby Valentine has seen progress.

Ive seen constant improvement, Valentine said. You know, step by step. He had a couple of bullpens between starts where he looked real sharp. I think hes ready to do what he can do consistently. Hes had all his pitches. He hasnt really strung them together like he can.

Valentine, though, is still getting to know each of Buchholz, so its difficult for him to judge the right-handers progress by his pitches.

Its hard for me to tell, Valentine said. Im not judging against what Ive seen in the past so Im just going pitch by pitch and game by game. It seems to me he has a changeup and hes throwing his changeup down and being able to throw that when hes behind in the count to get some outs and ground balls. I think that could be a plus. Hes a good pitcher. He hasn't hit his stride yet.

In five career starts against Oakland, Buchholz has a record of 1-2 with an ERA of 7.84 and opponents average of .354, both marks are his highest against any opponent. He made two starts against the As in 2011, going 1-0 (5.40). He threw a total of 10 innings, allowing six earned runs. The last time he faced Oakland was June 3 at Fenway. He did not factor into the decisions, going 4 23 innings, giving up five runs on eight hits with two strikeouts.

Rangers have used medical staff to recruit players

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Rangers have used medical staff to recruit players

Acquiring pitchers who stay healthy hasn’t been the easiest for Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski since he got to Boston.

The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, seem to be having success taking pitchers with prior injury concerns and revitalizing them.

Righty Andrew Cashner has been on the disabled list seven times. The first was for a rotator cuff strain. Elbow, shoulder, biceps, it’s all there on his body’s rap sheet. He has a 3.18 ERA.

Another Rangers starter, A.J. Griffin, has been to the DL six times. He doesn’t have the best ERA at the moment, 5.02, but he is in the rotation. 

Tyson Ross, who has great upside if healthy, is getting close to a return to the big leagues on a minor league rehab assignment. He's coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.

It’s been a catchphrase for major league executives: the medical arena is where the most valuable advances will come now that advanced on-field statistics are so readily available.

Have the Rangers figured something out more broadly, or are Cashner, Griffin and Ross just case-by-case discussions?

Rangers president Jon Daniels explained on the CSNNE Baseball Show podcast. 

“There’s some of both,” Daniels said. “I think that there are certain injuries, there are certain body types, there are certain medical histories that probably lend themselves to coming back more than others. But the biggest [matter] is about the individual, both the individual player and then the individuals on your medical staff and your coaching staff and how do they handle it. 

“One of the things that I’ve become so acutely aware of, whether it’s sports medicine or it’s the real world, real-life medicine, it matters dramatically. If you have a heart attack, you have a stroke, it matters dramatically which hospital you go to and which doctor you see. And so by the same token, when you’re putting a medical team together and they’re all highly qualified, and yet there’s still an enormous difference between — and not just in medical practices, but in bedside manner. Kind of the ability to communicate with the players, get the most out of them, have players trust them. Our whole medical team, top to bottom, has been a real asset for us and has helped us both recruit players and then get the most out of them when they’re on the mend.”

Daniels said his medical staff has grown in recent years. Team physician Dr. Keith Meister has a sports medicine facility that players take advantage of.

“The personnel there, the [physical therapists] there [are] really really gifted. And so we work very closely with them. We have given some, with [Yu] Darvish … we’ve been open to some different like styles of treatment.”

Daniels didn’t specify the treatments, but noted they weren’t too far out there.

“I don’t think it’s like anything crazy, and I don’t think we’re the only ones doing it,” he said. “When you’re exposed to just different mindsets, you explore it a little bit, you end up taking the best of each world and kind of incorporating it into our plan. Jamie Reed, long-time major league trainer, he’s our medical director and he gets people, he gets players and he gets sports medicine. And he’s been instrumental in putting together a lot of really good people on our medical side. When you look at some of the better medical staffs out there, Arizona and Tampa, he’s been directly involved with training some of those guys.

“Like anything else, you can have like the best ideas in the world,” Daniels continued. “If you don’t have the right people executing it, it doesn’t matter. It comes down to the people and really proud of the group we’ve got together.”