Buchholz looks into upping his tempo

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Buchholz looks into upping his tempo

FORT MYERS, Fla. Wednesdays scheduled offday fell on Clay Buchholzs scheduled day to pitch. So, he started the Triple-A game against a Rays squad just one of the benefits of pitching in minor league games.

Buchholz faced six batters in his first inning, recording five outs on 13 pitches, 11 strikes, with a hit and a strikeout. Odd pitching lines like that are another benefit of these outings.

Another benefit is that it allowed Buchholz to get in some necessary work. He pitched six innings, facing 27 batters, allowing 5 runs, four earned, on six hits, with two home runs, a walk and four strikeouts. He threw 89 pitches, 57 for strikes.

While it wasnt the cleanest of outings for Buchholz, he got what he needed from the outing.

Yeah, absolutely, he said. My first deal was to go out there and throw a lot of changeups. If I missed with it, throw it again. And unfortunately I did that a couple of times back-to-back and threw them both balls behind in the count. First inning felt really good, like everything was going as planned, and then had a couple of long innings after that. But the way I finished I felt really good about it.

It was after one of those long innings that pitching coach Bob McClure made a suggestion to Buchholz.

He got better increasing his tempo as he went along, McClure said.

The result?

Good stuff. I think he can work quicker and be more effective. And we talked about it, and he said it too.

Could a quicker tempo help Buchholz be more effective?

I dont know, but I would bet it would, McClure said. Just guessing, I think theres more flow there if you do it that way. Ive seen some guys real slow. Rick Sutcliffe was slow and a great pitcher. Mike Hargrove as a hitter was real slow but good hitter. Ive seen guys work slow and be good pitchers.

It can be a fine line to get a pitcher to change his tempo, possibly taking him out of his routine. But they payoff can be worth it.

Ive seen him pitch better when hes quicker, McClure said. When hes slower it doesnt seem as good. And I think it has something to do with the rhythm of his delivery, too -- when he thinks about getting the sign earlier, getting the pitch earlier, getting on the same page as the catcher earlier. At least from the windup it looks like theres more rhythm. When he goes real slow it almost looks like he starts and stops and goes again.

Im not sure if theyre connected but it sure looked like it today because after we talked about it he got seven outs in one inning on 18 pitches. He faced 10 guys in about 29 pitches. There was one hit in there, but he faced 10 guys and got nine of them out on less than 30 pitches, whereas the two innings before that it wasnt like that.

All we talked about was can you take less time in between pitches? And he said, Yes I can. Why, am I too slow? And I said I think so.

Those last couple innings felt like the ball was coming out of my hand a lot better than it was the first four innings, Buchholz said. Sped everything up a little bit delivery-wise. Felt like mechanics were a little bit better. Yeah, the body feels good.

It was Buchholzs sixth outing of the season, including minor league games. He is confident he is where he needs to be, unlike last season when he didnt feel prepared to start the season.

Yeah, just being able to do all the work in between and not having any ill effects from last year has helped out a lot, he said. Just knowing that each one of my pitches has been good at least one or two days throughout the spring. So think its just repetition now and getting to where I can throw the changeup in any count like I have been for the last couple seasons. I think once I get to that point I thin everything else sort of follows it.

Now, its just a matter of being ready for the start of the season.

I think just get ready for that first game of the season, mentally be ready, he said. Start with strike one and go from there. I think thats everybodys key. Throw strike one and then work your way to the hitter getting themselves out. Thats just my number one thought, going deep in the games.

Tyronn Lue says Celtics harder to defend than Warriors: 'They're running all kinds of s---'

Tyronn Lue says Celtics harder to defend than Warriors: 'They're running all kinds of s---'

The Golden State Warriors are the least of Tyronn Lue's worries, Cleveland Cavaliers coach explained Tuesday.

Even though Lue and the Cavs are up 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals, he is apparently overwhelmed with the Boston Celtics to the point where he isn't even thinking about Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the 67-win Warriors.

"We're just focused on Boston," Lue said of the Warriors following the Cavs' Game 4 win, via ESPN.com. "The stuff they're running, it's harder to defend than Golden State's [offense] for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it's a totally different thing."

No, seriously.

"Like, they hit the post, Golden State runs splits and all that stuff, but these guys are running all kinds of s---," Lue said of Boston coach Brad Stevens' schemes. "I'll be like, 'F---.' They're running all kinds of s---, man. And Brad's got them moving and cutting and playing with pace, and everybody is a threat. It's tough, you know, it's tough."

Without Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics finished Game 4 with four players who had 15 points or more. They also had six players who scored double digits in Boston's Game 3 win. Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder and Al Horford have made heavy offensive contributions. And they not just scoring. The Celtics are working hard off the ball by setting screens and cutting to the hoop to pressure the Cavaliers defense.

The Celtics may not have the Warriors' star power -- but Stevens and Boston are still managing to leave Lue in a state of clear befuddlement after a win.

LeBron James praised Stevens more directly when discussing how the Celtics "run different things" after losing Thomas to injury.

"So they had to kind of reshape, and that’s the beauty of having Brad Stevens as your coach," James told reporters. "You’re able to reshape what you do offensively and still be in a good rhythm. It’s been challenging for us to kind of — plays out of time-out, kind of been killing us on ATOs and keeping us off balance, but in the second half we kind of got a little bit of rhythm, and think we’ll be better in Game 5."