The Red Sox are going to need Clay Buchholz to provide the type of year that he gave the team in 2010. That year he worked in 173.2 innings, went 17-7 through 28 starts and a 2.33 ERA. The reason he was able to do so is simple; he was healthy.
Buchholz is quite easily the number three guy on the Sox staff and at just 27-years of age, he has his prime years ahead of him. The Sox are hoping that those years start in 2012. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe via Twitter, Buchholz is 100% healthy and has already thrown eight bullpen sessions. This is the first step in the right direction for the Red Sox and Buchholz.
Cafardo also tweeted that Buchholz has been working out with Dustin Pedroia most of the off season and as a result of the intense training regime the righthander is already at his playing weight of 190 pounds. Further proof that another pitcher who is motivated by what happened last year to come to camp ready to play.
When asked about last year, Buchholz is quick to put 2011 behind him.
“That was last year. I learned from it. You have to fess up to your mistakes and move on.” – courtesy of Nick Cafardo via Twitter.
Last season was tough for Buchholz who had his year cut short thanks to a stress fracture in his spine. He pitched in just 82.2 innings (his lowest in three seasons) and wasn’t available to provide steady pitching for the Sox when they needed it most.
Cafardo tweeted that Buchholz wants to pitch in 200 innings this season and while that would provide a tremendous amount of relief for the Sox rotation, it isn’t necessary. He’s young and too valuable after signing him to an extension last season, so there is no need to push the workload on him just yet. If Buchholz can stay healthy then 170 innings should be his maximum. When he’s healthy he’s effective and could win 15-17 games. If Bobby V wants to push Buchholz to that 200 inning mark then don’t count out an 18-20 win season.
The entire scenario depends on Buchholz health, specifically his back. He’s a cornerstone piece for this club for the future but only if he can prove he’s worth what he’s getting paid. In order to do that he needs to stay healthy, pitch effectively and win ball games. It all starts this spring and so far things look promising.