What a difference a year makes for Buchholz

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What a difference a year makes for Buchholz

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was only a year ago, and yet, it seems like much longer.

When Clay Buchholz reported to spring training last February, very little was guaranteed for him. Though the Red Sox had resisted trading him and viewed him a potential front-of-the-rotation starter, he had yet to establish himself as a dependable major-league starter, with just a dozen wins spread over parts of the three previous seasons.

That was before, of course, Buchholz enjoyed his breakout 2010 season when he won 17 games and fashioned a tidy 2.33 ERA, earning him a spot on the All-Star team and a more secure spot in the rotation.

This spring, the uncertainty that surrounded him a year ago has dissolved, and with it, the need to prove himself. Buchholz is no longer a prospect; he's established. Whereas last year he had to make a statement to make the team, Buchholz isn't under the same sort of scrutiny.

"It definitely feels different, but it feels good," said Buchholz, "having a full season under my belt, having that feeling that I belong in this position and feeling that the team has a little bit of confidence in me going into the season."

Buchholz recalled fretting over a poor start against the Minnesota Twins last March and wondering how it might impact his chance to make the club. That won't be an issue this year.

Instead, he'll use his time here as preparation, not a job audition.

"That's one of the things I talked to John Lackey about last year," said Buchholz. "His big thing was coming into spring training and viewing it as a process to get ready for the season. That's how I think spring training should be labeled.

"I definitely want to come into spring training ready to throw, but not particularly be in mid-season form at the beginning so that you burn out during the season. That's how I'm going to take it this year."

In recalling 2010, Buchholz cited a number of factors responsible for his growth as a pitcher -- and not all of them were physical. He learned a lot about the mental toughness needed to succeed in the American League East.

As a younger pitcher, Buchholz was sometimes prone to being rattled. Baserunners would distract him and his focus would wander at times.

But last year, Buchholz kept his poise better and didn't allow problems to snowball.

"I think I matured a little bit," he said, "as far having the ability in some big situations, making one pitch and getting out of a jam . . . If I had a bad outing, I forgot about it, had a short memory. And even if it was a good outing, forget about that, too, and go out and try to do the same thing."

Few pitchers are ever satisfied, and Buchholz includes himself in that group. There are still areas in which he would like to see improvement, including the ability to "make some adjustments a little quicker. I think I did a better job as far as mechanically doing something wrong and coming back the next batter and fixing it. I'd like to make a pitch-by-pitch thing. If I make a mistake, adjust on the next pitch instead of waiting for the next batter."

Like the rest of the Red Sox staff, Buchholz will have to go forward without the counsel of pitching coach John Farrell who left last November to manage the Toronto Blue Jays. Farrell's absence will be felt.

"John Farrell was awesome," said Buchholz. "He was probably one of the big reasons why I had success last year. I finally got accustomed to talk to him and not be afraid of him. He's just a stern person, always about business.

"Talking to Curt Young, new pitcing coach, he's a different personality. He's going to fit in well with this clubhouse."

Buchholz isn't making personal predictions for 2011. He's content to see where his talent takes him.

"As far as projecting numbers," said Buchholz, I'm not expecting anything. I'm just going to go out and make pitches, go pitch-by-pitch and go from there."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Sandoval to undergo surgery on left shoulder

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Sandoval to undergo surgery on left shoulder

The Boston Red Sox have announced that third baseman Pablo Sandoval will undergo surgery on his left shoulder.

The 29-year-old third baseman was placed on the disabled list on April 13 after starting the season 0-for-6 at the plate.

Further details about the surgery have yet to be announced by the organization.

Mazz: Is David Price the Peyton Manning of MLB?

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Mazz: Is David Price the Peyton Manning of MLB?

After a rough start to the season Tony Massarotti is starting to wonder if David Price has struggled due to the cold weather early in the season, and if he should be considered the Peyton Manning of MLB.

Time for struggling David Price to fix what's been ailing him

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Time for struggling David Price to fix what's been ailing him

BOSTON -- It’s safe to say the “David Price Experience” has been eerily similar to the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Through his first six starts, he’s had three good outings and three towards the other end of the spectrum. He’s maintained the sequence of good-bad-good throughout the process, with Sunday night being his most recent poor performance.

Additionally (as Red Sox Insider Sean McAdam pointed out in Sunday’s postgame press conference) all three of his rough starts have been at home -- in a park where he was known for pitching well prior to 2016.

“I haven’t executed in this ballpark as well as I know that I’m capable of,” Price said. That’s frustrating, but that’s something I can fix. I felt better today than I did my last start [at Fenway] for sure. But it doesn’t matter how good you feel; you’ve got to be able to execute and that’s what I didn’t do.”

Now, yes, he did keep his team in striking distance -- with just a little help from his offense – and allow John Farrell avoid the bullpen until it was Koji Time, followed by Jonathan Papelbon 2.0. That was a sign that Price is a true ace, especially when Farrell kept the ball in his hands to face Alex Rodriguez in the seventh after giving up two big hits to the righty in previous at-bats.

“He asked me if I was going to really make good pitches in that situation and I told him absolutely,” Price said about his mound conversation with Farrell before he faced Rodriguez.

But in looking at the numbers, Price has only looked like half an ace to start the year. Yes, April has traditionally been his worst month, but his first start in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry came in the first day of May.

So clearly Price has adjustments to make and can’t just switch things off and on whenever he pleases.

After Sunday night’s game, he expressed how execution was his biggest problem, with no better evidence that the home run and double he gave up to Rodriguez.

On the home run, Christian Vazquez called for a fastball down and in, but Price missed up in the zone down the heart of the plate with his first pitch. Then the next time up, Price threw a fastball right down the middle, again -- this time when the count was 1-and-2 – resulting in the two-base hit, which was nearly another home run.

The lefty explained how those pitches were a result of not “getting on top” of the ball enough, making his misses costly.

“If you’re going to miss, miss down not up,” Price said. “And that’s what I haven’t been able to do so far.”

He appears to be aware of the issue. Now's the time for him to adjust.