After a disappointing 2008, Clay Buchholz had an interesting and uplifting 2009 — but what does that mean for 2010? For the 25-year-old who emerged as Boston’s No. 3 starter this fall, hopefully it means a spot in next spring’s rotation.
Earlier this summer, Buchholz was in Pawtucket lighting up the International League with a 7-2 record and a 2.36 ERA. Although he was able to earn a spot on the Triple-A All-Star squad, he wasn’t able to earn a spot on Boston’s roster until July, when he made a spot-start in the first game of the second half of the season.
From there, he stayed in the Hub despite going 1-3 in his first four decisions. Manager Terry Francona stuck with the lanky hurler, and it paid off. Buchholz went on to win six straight decisions and ended the regular season with a 7-4 record — a far cry from last summer’s 2-9 mark.
“I’m more relaxed now,” he told NESN’s Heidi Watney and a horde of Boston media on Monday from Fenway Park’s home locker room. “I feel like I did a little bit better job this year as far as being more consistent and showing these guys that this is where I feel that I belong. It’s going to feel good going into spring training knowing that I actually have a legitimate shot at being on this team next year instead of hoping and wanting.”
Buchholz beat out Daisuke Matsuzaka as Boston’s third starter in the ALDS, mainly because Dice-K was battling injuries for the majority of the summer while Buchholz was just building steam. But with a healthy Matsuzaka heading into spring training, Red Sox fans can expect a good battle for the slot behind Jon Lester and Josh Beckett in the rotation.
Buchholz, for one, is confident: “If I go off and do my work in the offseason and get ready like I should than I feel that the job is there for me.”