Buchholz: Sox returning with 'chip on our shoulder'


Buchholz: Sox returning with 'chip on our shoulder'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Clay Buchholz wasn't even part of the September collapse for the 2011 Red Sox, but he knows the fallout will continue for a while this season.

"It is what it is,'' said the Red Sox starter, who missed the final three months of the season because of a stress fracture in his lower back. "I think that stuff is over and done with, but I know we're going to have to answer some questions here early.''

Buchholz tried to speed up his recovery process but could only watch as the team imploded, compiling a 7-20 September and forfeiting what had been a healthy wild-card lead.

"For the most part, either we didn't hit or we didn't pitch,'' he said, "and if you don't do either one of those things in a single month, it's not going to turn out well. I think everybody knows that. I think a lot of guys have come here with a chip on their shoulder about it. We want to do well and we want to do it in October, too.''

When asked about some of the unsavory off-field details that were revealed after the season -- including some starting pitchers eating chicken and drinking beer in the clubhouse during games -- Buchholz suggested that was overblown.

"I think that was last year -- a couple of bad decisions here and there,'' he said. ''I think if we would have made the playoffs, it wouldn't have been that big of a topic. I think it was blown out of proportion a little bit. I think it's in the past. Everybody has learned from it. I think everybody's mental state is going to be a lot better starting here in the spring.''

Buchholz was part of a group of players who had dinner with new manager Bobby Valentine over the winter and thinks Valentine's style may be the perfect tonic for the Sox.

"I think it's going to be in a good way,'' he said. "He seems like he likes to have control of everybody and I think that's something that we need. Then again, he's a relaxed person, too, so it's going to fit in well with this clubhouse.

"Everybody here is a grown man. Everybody can take care of themselves. But sometimes when you veer off the path that you need to take, you need someone there to tell you, 'Hey, this is where we need to go and I see you doing this.' In that aspect, it's going to be good for us."

Like some of his other teammates, Buchholz was surprised the story of clubhouse behavior gained as much traction as it did.

"It's happened more than that in previous years,'' noted Buchholz, "but we did well then and it wasn't spoken about. The main issue is we didn't make the playoffs and that was just something for people to talk about.

"I didn't let it bother me too much. When you're in an offseason and people are still wanting to talk about things that happened four months ago that don't have anything to do with what you're doing now -- I think that bothered a couple of people. But it comes with the territory. We're major-league baseball players playing for the Boston Red Sox. You're going to have to fess up to your mistakes and go from there.''

Some five days before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report, all but a handful are already on hand. That's a good sign, Buchholz said.

"It's definitely a good thing,'' he said of the early attendance. "I think that's what we're expected to do, so I think that's why everybody does it. I've been ready to get back on a mound since September. It's good to see everybody here, good to see all the new faces that come in the clubhouse.

"I think we're going to have a really good team this year."

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

Isaiah Thomas continues to claim Celtics' franchise records

BOSTON – This continues to be a historic season for Isaiah Thomas as more records fell in Wednesday’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee, and the company he’s keeping becomes even more exclusive. 

Thomas had a game-high 32 points on Wednesday which included five made 3’s on nine attempts. That gave him 223 for the season which is a new franchise single-season record for made 3-pointers. The previous record was 222 set by Antoine Walker during the 2001-2002 season.

And his 32 points scored gives him 2,012 this season. 

Only six players in franchise history (Paul Pierce was the last to do it during the 2005-2006 season) have scored 2,000 or more points in a single season. 

Oh, there’s more. 

With Wednesday being the 66th time this season he has had 20 or more points, Thomas has now tied Pierce (2005-2006) and Larry Bird (1985-1986; 1987-1988) for sixth on the Celtics’ single-season franchise list. 

“I didn’t even know that,” a visibly disappointed Thomas said following Wednesday’s loss. “It doesn’t feel that good right now. But when I look back on it, probably in the offseason, I’ll appreciate it a little more. But I’m just staying in the moment and try and play as best I can to lead this team to as many wins as possible.”

Other season milestones Thomas is in the mix for include the following:

  • The 5-foot-9 guard is one of three players this season to have 50 or more games of 25-plus points, joined by Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (57) and Houston’s James Harden (54).
  • Thomas has made at least one 3-pointer in a franchise-record 50 straight games (Dec. 3 – March 29). That’s also the longest current streak in the NBA. 
  • With 66 games of 20 or more points this season, Thomas is second in the NBA to Westbrook (67).

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

Marcus Smart at center of yet another controversial call

BOSTON – One of the more bizarre plays in Boston’s 103-100 loss to Milwaukee came in the second quarter, requiring some explanation from the officials afterwards. 

With 3:55 to play in the second quarter, the officials had originally called a foul on Marcus Smart which he verbally protested that eventually led to him being whistled for a technical foul. 

After the officials reviewed the play, they changed the call to a personal foul against Khris Middleton but no change to the called technical foul against Smart who objected to a call that, upon review, they agreed was the wrong call to make. 

Official Sean Corbin, through pool reporter Ken Powtak of the Associated Press, acknowledged that the original call was a loose ball foul against Smart. 

“The (officiating) crew got together, we met prior to video and we decided that we needed to look at video because both players were on the floor bleeding so we went to the video for a hostile act,” Corbin told Powtak. “In the review we noticed that Khris Middleton initially made contact to Marcus Smart’s face. That’s how the original contact to the play occurred.”

Fortunately for the Celtics, Middleton missed his technical free throw while Smart split a pair of free throws which cut Milwaukee’s lead to 49-40.

Still, that’s no consolation for Smart who was whistled for a technical foul on a play that the official acknowledged was the wrong call to make. 

In the fourth quarter, Smart was at the center of yet another controversial call that was also reviewed by the officials. The verdict wasn't nearly as good for Smart who was whistled for a flagrant foul after getting his feet tangled up with Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo who was called for a non-shooting foul in the play with 4:46 to play. 

Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws and on the Bucks' ensuing possession, he was called for traveling.

Smart was unavailable to talk after the game in part because the aforementioned incident left an abrasion to his mouth and, because of the technical foul, a little lighter in the wallet as well.