Clay Buchholz knew his days in Boston were numbered.
The Red Sox bolstered their rotation over the offseason by trading for perennial Cy Young candidate Chris Sale. The move made Buchholz, who’s had plenty of ups and downs over the last few years, even more expendable, and Boston ultimately shipped the right-hander to the Philadelphia Phillies in December, a little over a month after exercising his contract option for the 2017 season.
“I knew when they (traded for) Chris Sale, I knew I was probably the odd man out. That’s just the scenario that popped up,” Buchholz recently told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford on the “Bradfo Sho” podcast, looking back on his departure from the Red Sox. “I thought if that was going to happen, I thought I was going to go somewhere involving in that trade. And that wasn’t the case.
“But coming to a place like (Philadelphia), this team’s been really good in the past, and a lot of people think this team is rebuilding, but for me coming in, looking from the outside perspective, there’s a lot of good talent here. I’ve been on teams that aren’t as talented as this team that we did pretty good. So that’s the way I’m looking at it. I’m looking at it as an opportunity to prove a lot of people wrong, and the veteran people in this clubhouse, I think that’s what we’re trying to instill in everybody that’s sitting here right now.”
Buchholz, drafted by the Red Sox in 2005, earned two All-Star nods during his 10 major league seasons with Boston. He posted an 81-61 record and a 3.96 ERA in 206 appearances (188 starts) and at times looked like one of the best pitchers in the American League.
But inconsistency has long plagued Buchholz, who turns 33 in August. So perhaps a fresh start will serve him well, even if he’s going from a team with World Series aspirations to a club currently rebuilding.
“I was blessed to get the opportunity to (play in Boston),” Buchholz told Bradford. “I thought I knew going into it how hard the game was, but it’s a really humbling game. If you can play in Boston, I think you can pretty much play anywhere — Boston, New York, where everything is magnified by quite a bit. That’s part of the game, that’s part of the reason why people play the game. You’re going to struggle — and nobody wants to struggle — but when the struggles come, it’s how you take it and how you learn from it.
“That’s the cool thing about being older now and being around the group of guys I’m around now. You’ve got a young crew of guys here, and if I can help in any way — from my success in the past, from my failures in the past — if I can try to preach a little bit about how to take it and what to look for and what not to look for, and go from there, that’s why I’m here.”
Things weren’t always smooth for Buchholz in Boston, where the writing eventually was written on the wall for his exit. Yet he left a World Series champion, and he’ll now look to impart the wisdom he gained along the way onto those looking to make a name for themselves in the City of Brotherly Love.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images