Clay Buchholz's season was drastically cut short in 2011. After 14 starts for the Red Sox, the right-handed pitcher landed on the disabled list with a back strain that was eventually diagnosed as a back fracture.
These days, Buchholz is on the mound again for Boston. Through two starts this season against the Tigers and the Rays, he’s posted a 1-0 record and has struck out seven batters.
As he battled back from the injury over the offseason, Buchholz learned about proper back care. While he said the injury is no longer an issue for him, he’s dedicated himself to more workouts to alleviate stress from his back.
"I've just got to stay consistent, keep working out and try to keep everything healthy and strong," Buchholz said. "If that's the case, then I'll be right up there with [the starting pitchers]."
Prior to his starts, Buchholz has a routine to aid his back. About two hours before the first pitch, he stretches extensively and walks around to loosen up while he evaluates the opposing lineup's hitters.
With this health issues in the rearview mirror, Buchholz is targeting 200 innings for the 2012 season. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine says that's an achievable goal for his young pitcher.
"He's healthy," Valentine said. "That doesn't mean he's not going to pull his hamstring, hurt his back. He looks very flexible, strong — the trainer's room, bike, weights [have helped]."
During Grapefruit League action, the Nederland, Texas, native tossed 20 2/3 innings, allowing 12 runs and walking five batters. He finished with a 2-2 record as he shook of the rust from his lengthy sideline stint.
Before his last spring training start in Washington on April 3, Buchholz was antsy to prove that his back issues were a thing of the past.
"I've been ready for about 7 1/2 months," Buchholz said when asked of his excitement level to start the season.
After two regular-season outings, Buchholz will make his next scheduled start against the Yankees.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) is offering 100 healthy tips to celebrate Fenway Park’s centennial. Visit 100pitches.org to learn more.