Oct 1, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz (11) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Buccholz Ready For First Spring Action But Is He Ready For The Long Haul?

On day one, drill number one of Red Sox spring training camp Clay Buchholz ran to cover first base and, boing, just like that came up lame with a tweaked hamstring. Buchholz has been rehabbing since then, says it has felt fine since shortly after he did it and will be ready for action today when he makes his spring training debut against the Twins at 1:05 pm.

At the time of the Feb. 12 injury both Boston Manager John Farrell and Buchholz described the injury as trivial, a minor setback. 20 days later as Buchholz prepares for this first Grapefruit League appearance the elephant in the room nagging question is can he stay healthy?

To paraphrase Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live’s Point/Counterpoint skit from the 70′s, Buchholz has been on the DL during the his career with “the frequency of a cheap ham radio.” To further the SNL analogies, there’s this quote from Gilda Radner’s Roseanne Roseannadanna character: “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

He’s had freak accidents (torn fingernail) and serious injuries (micro fractures in his back) that we now know is a chronic condition that will need to be managed and makes one wonder about the 28-year old’s long-term durability.

I like Clay Buchholz. He keeps his trap shut and pitches. No drama, no controversy, no BS. He’s a pro. It’s just that the guy can’t seem to stay healthy. When he’s on he’s a key component of the Red Sox’ pitching success. During a healthy 2010 season Buchholz was 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA. But in order to be on you have to be in and there’s been too little of that lately.

In six major league seasons Buchholz has averaged 17 starts. During his full seasons from 2008 through 2012 he has averaged 9 wins against 5 losses. During that span his ERA was 4.27. Overall the numbers are low volume and output.

Baseball more than any other sport is driven by numbers and the numbers don’t lie. If the Red Sox can live with injuries and a career .544 winning percentage (discounting his 2007 rookie year in which he didn’t play a full season) fine. Boston’s management and fans simply need to know what they’ve signed up for.

And everybody hurts sometimes
And everybody hurts sometimes
So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
- Everybody Hurts, R.E.M. 

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