Clay Buchholz is switching things up this year.
Buchholz, who experienced shoulder and neck issues in 2013, told reporters in Fort Myers on Monday that he’s fully healthy. However, the right-hander arrived at spring training having not thrown any bullpen sessions, which is a deviation from his previous offseason regimens.
“Usually coming into camp I’ve thrown four or five bullpens and ready to go. This year, I didn’t throw any bullpens,” Buchholz said. “So this year, I’m using spring training for the purpose of spring training — that’s to get ready for the season this year.”
Buchholz started with a bang last season, going 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his first 12 starts before an injury sidelined him until Sept. 10. Buchholz returned to make four more regular-season starts and four playoff starts, although there briefly was some doubt as to whether he’d be available in the World Series because of a physical issue. Buchholz ended up going four innings in Game 4 of the World Series, surrendering one unearned run on three hits.
“I was 85-90 in that start,” Buchholz said. “The way the ball was moving, that just tells me I don’t always have to throw 94 to have success, and that’s against one of the better teams in baseball.”
Buchholz, who received advice from Dr. James Andrews last season, said Monday that he spent much of the offseason resting. Buchholz didn’t throw until December, and the discomfort in his shoulder went away as a result. Now, Buchholz’s focus is on getting back to where he typically is at this point in the winter.
“This offseason has been a little bit different than in the past, not having the mound time off,” Buchholz said. “In recent years, I’ve gotten to spring training being basically in midseason form as far as being off the mound. Speaking with the training staff, I needed to take a step back from that and make sure everything was fully recovered, not to push anything too far, too soon. It’s a different route than I’ve gone the last four or five years coming into camp, just playing catch and long toss. But I feel a lot better by doing that rather than just jumping into the throwing program when I normally would do it.”
Buchholz finished the 2013 season with a 12-1 record and 1.74 ERA in 16 regular-season starts. The pitcher’s goal obviously is to stay on the field this season, and his offseason adjustments certainly reflect that mindset.