Clay Buchholz, Red Sox Can Only Look Ahead After Rough Loss to Marlins

Clay Buchholz, Red Sox Can Only Look Ahead After Rough Loss to Marlins JUPITER, Fla. — Clay Buchholz finished his third start of spring training last week against Detroit saying he "struggled with command on just about every pitch."

That worrisome quote came after he gave up just one earned run (three total) in four innings. After Thursday's start against Florida, in which Buchholz surrendered 11 runs — six earned — on 11 hits (four of which were home runs) in four innings, he was able to take a much less alarming approach.

Such is life in spring training, when it's much easier to focus on the positives, even if it looked on the surface to be entirely negative.

"Probably best I've felt all spring," Buchholz said. "Felt like the ball was coming out of my hand good. Felt like one of those days that even ahead of the count it got hit. The home runs, thought a couple of them were hit well, thought a couple of them were fly balls. Can't do anything about that … Hopefully that stuff's out of the way."

Buchholz actually struck out two men in a scoreless first. John Buck got to him for a two-run homer in the second and Mike Stanton, playing his first game of the spring, slugged three-run homers in both the third and fourth innings. Three more came across in the fourth on an RBI single and a two-run bomb by Logan Morrison.

To Buchholz, it was just one of those days. The wind was blowing out, he missed with a few pitches and the Marlins didn't miss on a single one of them. As he said, he made "five mistakes today and they all got hit." That would not be so easy to shrug off in the middle of the summer.

However, given the fact that it came on March 24 before 7,648 fans more interested in getting a tan, Buchholz could put this one behind him in a heartbeat. He got in the work he needed to get in, felt great physically and could keep his focus on long-term goals, including one that manager Terry Francona discussed pregame.

After his young righty threw 173 2/3 innings in his first full major league season, Francona has every bit of confidence that Buchholz can take that next step and become a stalwart in the rotation. When asked if he expected Buchholz to reach the 200-inning mark, Francona said, "He better."

The 26-year-old, just moments after getting knocked all around Roger Dean Stadium, was taking a look forward as well.

"Absolutely, that's something that I wanted to do last year," Buchholz said of pitching 200 innings. "I felt like I was in good shape to do it and then the tragic series in San Francisco [when I strained a hamstring]. But I felt this strong last year at the beginning of the season so that's one of the references I'm going to use going into this year, knowing that being in the big leagues for a full season, pitching 28, 29 starts, and feeling strong all the starts, that's what I took out of last year."

One has to keep perspective after leaving a game with such an ugly line, regardless of the significance of the results. If this had happened a year ago, Buchholz's bid to win a job in the starting rotation might have been in jeopardy. On a sunny day in Jupiter, it was, once again, just one of those days. Even the guy who might've made that hard decision last spring could see that.

"It happens. Spring training you see it happen, winds blowing out," Francona said. "You don't want to sit through it, you'd rather see guys have success, but two weeks from now that won't matter. Just a long day."

Buchholz will have a slightly shorter day his next time out when he scales back his pitch count in the finale at City of Palms Park next Tuesday. With an eye on bigger and better things this season, he won't carry any bitterness from the rocky afternoon in Jupiter. Just one of those days.

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