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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Red Sox' Clay Buchholz ready for Spring Training

By on 1/12/2014 04:00:00 PM

Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons
Boston Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz was in the midst of a career year -- and possible Cy Young-winning season -- when bursitis hit his shoulder and shelved him for most of the second half. He returned in September and pitched just as well. Fatigue, though, caught up with him during the postseason, and although he pitched very well in his one World Series start, he could not deliver the same performance each time out in the postseason.

Buchholz has had a chance to rest and recover and, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, will report to Spring Training on time and healthy. In his January 12 "Updates on Nine" segment, Cafardo cites Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington as saying that Buchholz has had a "normal" offseason with no setbacks or unusual activity. Cafardo also adds that injuries have kept the talented right-hander (who has pitched a no-hitter in his career) from becoming an elite pitcher. Cafardo writes,
"The Red Sox’ hope is that Buchholz comes back stronger and more able to withstand injuries that tend to keep him from being one of the top pitchers in the game."
Buchholz was 9-0 with a 1.70 ERA when he went on the 60-day disabled list on June 9. He missed a start in late May with inflammation but then pitched 11.2 innings over two games before the bursitis sidelined him. At that point, his seven-inning average had started to dwindle to six and five innings.

Upon his return, Buchholz averaged six innings in four September starts and earned a 3-1 record with a 1.88 ERA. For the season, he finished 12-1, 1.74 ERA, 1.025 WHIP, and 4.3 WAR -- very likely a pace that could have earned him the Cy Young award if continued for the full season.

The 2013 DL stint was Buchholz's fifth in his seven-year career. He has had problems with his left thigh, right hand, illness, back, and right shoulder. His longest stint came in 2011 when he spent 103 days on the DL with a stress fracture in his lower back. Still, with all of his injuries, he has compiled a career record of 58-33, 3.60 ERA, and 1.293 WHIP. There may very well be something to Cafrado's statement about the injuries keeping Buchholz from becoming one of the game's best. When healthy in 2013, he was.

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