Clay Buchholz: Pitching Through Pain In 2013 Might Have Hurt Delivery

Clay BuchholzClay Buchholz threw a simulated game Sunday before the Boston Red Sox’s series finale against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. The right-hander continued to work on a mechanical flaw that seemingly has contributed to his disastrous 2014 season.

Buchholz, whose 7.02 ERA is the worst among all major league pitchers with at least 50 innings, threw 48 pitches over three simulated innings Sunday. The Red Sox videotaped the session for further review, as Buchholz is trying to overcome an issue in his delivery that perhaps dates back to late last season.

“Last year, I had to figure out a way to throw that I didn’t feel altered in any way, that I didn’t feel anything hurting,” Buchholz told reporters in Detroit following Sunday’s sim game. “I’m sure a couple of things in my delivery changed last year without even trying. Just human nature, if something hurts, you try to do it differently. I’m sure that followed me into spring training this year. It just took me a little longer to do it than I wanted to.”

Buchholz got off to a fast start last season, posting a 9-0 record and 1.71 ERA through 12 starts before missing three months with shoulder and neck issues. He returned to make four more regular-season starts in September, but discomfort in his lat muscle threatened to end his playoffs prematurely. Buchholz ended up making four postseason starts despite the ailment.

This season has been a total train wreck for Buchholz, whose command and mechanics have been all over the place. Buchholz and the Red Sox feel they’ve identified the pitcher’s main problem, though, and the hope is he’ll be able to return to his previous All-Star form upon rejoining the club.

“With my leg kick, I was rotating. I’ve done that in the past, but it’s just been easier in the past to overcome,” Buchholz said. “That’s one of the main things we’ve been working on in side sessions — staying over the rubber, not rotating as much as I’m falling forward. It makes the arm late.”

The Red Sox placed Buchholz on the 15-day disabled list on May 28 with a hyperextended left knee. Sunday marked the first time he’s faced live hitters since his May 26 start, and while there’s no exact timetable for his return, things finally appear to be moving in the right direction.

“Everything felt good,” Buchholz said Sunday. “Direction was good, location. It felt better coming out of my hand. Today was most like a game situation I’ve been in since the last time I started. This is something that’s going to get me moving forward.”

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