Clay Buchholz Encouraged by Return to Mound After Nine-Month Absence

Clay Buchholz Encouraged by Return to Mound After Nine-Month AbsenceFORT MYERS, Fla. –– The nine-month long stint on the sidelines finally ended for Clay Buchholz.

For the first time since June 16, 2011, the right-hander stepped onto the mound and pitched. Although it was a spring training game against the Twins, Buchholz was simply fueled by Monday's return after a long absence.

"There's a lot of work that went into it," Buchholz said after Boston's 10-2 victory. "A lot of time off. A lot of struggles. Yeah, it was definitely worth all the work to be out there and not feel any stress."

His results weren't all that ideal. Despite tossing two scoreless innings, Buchholz occasionally struggled with his command, walking two batters and plunking another –– Josh Willingham –– in his short stint.

"I think that was just rust facing a big league team, facing the guys they rolled out there today weren't just no-name guys," Buchholz said. "You've got a lot of guys on that team who have been around the game a long time and they get paid a lot of money to do their job. It was just a situation where it started speeding up a little bit and had to calm down and make a couple of pitches."

But there were bright spots in the start. Having faced seven batters, Buchholz racked up two strikeouts while throwing 36 pitches — 20 of them for strikes.

The hurler said he primarily tried to test out his four-seam fastball, two-seamer and cutters in the outing. While some of the throws missed, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was encouraged by the progress.

"I liked seeing him in the competitive mode that he was in today," Valentine said. "He's a fierce competitor. His pitches were good, he didn't pitch well with them, but I liked what I saw. He'll be a welcome addition to this staff."

Even with the return, Buchholz plans to maintain the exercise program with his back for roughly three days a week to prevent another injury.

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