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.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Is Rob Gronkowski good to go?

00:43 - Rob Gronkowski says he's ready to go against the Texans. Michael Holley, Tom Giles and Kayce Smith talk about this risks of him playing while injured.

05:47 - Phil A.Perry follows up the Gronk discussion with a deeper breakdown of Gronk’s decision to play this Sunday.

10:02 - David Price appears to be easing back into baseball after pitching Friday night. Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Price’s outing in Cincinnati. 

16:12 - The BST crew recaps the Red Sox win over Reds. Drellich returns to analyze how the pitchers performed and how that will impact the Red Sox postseason stretch.  

Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

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Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — President Donald Trump says National Football League owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he’s encouraging spectators to walk out in protest.

In an extended riff during a freewheeling rally speech in Alabama Friday night, Trump also bemoaned that football games have become less violent.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

Several athletes, including NFL players, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest of the treatment of blacks by police.

Trump says those players are disrespecting the flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said, encouraging owners to act.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

Trump also predicted that any owner who went through with his encouragement would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.

Trump, who was in Alabama campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange, also blamed a decline in NFL ratings on the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as what he described as a decline in violence in the game.

He said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it’s “not the same game.”

The NFL has made several efforts to reduce violence in the sport, particularly hits that may cause damage to the head. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the “old days” — claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn’t protect their heads when pushing them into quad cars.

It’s also not the first time he’s raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of kneeling during the anthem, hadn’t been signed by an NFL team.

Trump said the protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned this season.

“You know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem,” he said.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

“I guarantee things will stop,” he said.

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