FORT MYERS, Fla. — It would be reasonable for someone stumbling upon Clay Buchholz’s 2013 stat line without any context to think the pitcher’s year was silky smooth. But that person would be dead wrong.
Buchholz, who went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 16 regular-season starts last season, dealt with neck and shoulder issues that sidelined him for a big chunk of the year. Making matters worse for Buchholz was the constant questioning he faced regarding the true extent of his injury, although the right-hander said following a live batting practice session at JetBlue Park on Sunday that last season is a distant memory.
“Yeah, it’s a little bit easier now, being in the league for a couple of years rather than it being my first year and having the whole team depend on me,” Buchholz said Sunday of blocking out last season’s noise. “We had guys step up all year whenever stuff happened. When you have a deep rotation and guys can come up from Pawtucket and Portland and help the team out whenever their name’s called, that’s what makes it a team game.”
Buchholz, who admitted Sunday he was a bit rusty during his first live BP of spring training, acknowledged that frustration began to set in last season. He constantly had to remind himself of what was at stake.
“I know what I was feeling and how it felt to repeat the motion,” Buchholz said regarding last season’s discomfort. “I think I said it a bunch last year that I wouldn’t have been helping anybody going out there. I would’ve been putting my team in a position to lose, which is one thing I didn’t want to do. It was frustrating to a certain extent, but then I just sort of forgot about it and just let it go.”
Buchholz missed three months last season before returning in September. He made four regular-season starts and four playoff starts the rest of the way, but it wasn’t before lingering discomfort threatened to end his season in the World Series. Buchholz pushed through the issue and provided the Red Sox with four important innings in Game 4 of the Fall Classic in St. Louis.
Buchholz’s Game 4 effort ended his year on a positive note. But there were points amid his injury woes when the 29-year-old’s toughness and competitiveness were called into question. Buchholz said Sunday that’s simply the beast of playing in Boston.
“It’s been a grind, especially in this organization. … New England in general, it’s tough when things are going rough for you. It’s really good when everything’s going good, so I would definitely rather have it be the good stuff than the bad stuff,” Buchholz said. “But sometimes stuff happens, and we’ve got to persevere through it and go make yourself better from a negative standpoint.”
Buchholz, who adjusted his offseason program to allow for extra rest, said he felt fine physically during Sunday’s live BP.