Clay Buchholz: Starting Opening Day For Red Sox Would Be ‘An Honor’

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Someone needs to fill Jon Lester’s shoes come Opening Day. Enter Clay Buchholz.

While Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell wasn’t ready to announce his Opening Day starter Sunday (one day after pitchers and catchers officially reported to camp), it’s possible that Buchholz, the third-longest tenured member of the club, could assume the role held by Lester the last four seasons.

“That’s what spring training is for. You have to prove that you are that guy, and that’s what Jon Lester did the last four years that he was the Opening Day guy,” Buchholz said Sunday at JetBlue Park. “He was the guy to go to. He was the horse. He proved it in the postseason and late in the season and September.

“Absolutely, it would be an honor to do that. But I’m focused on spring training and getting through this and being 100 percent out of spring training.”

Clearly, Buchholz wasn’t willing to put the cart before the horse regarding the topic of pitching Opening Day. While he showed some encouraging signs down the stretch in 2014, the last two seasons have been a grind for the right-hander, who is about to enter his ninth major league campaign.

Buchholz made 28 starts and threw 170 1/3 innings last season, which was a step in the right direction following a 2013 season in which he started only 16 regular-season contests spanning 108 1/3 frames. But the 30-year-old never has reached the 30-start or 200-inning mark. Thus, his focus this spring is more about building up his durability for the long haul than competing for the opportunity to start April 6 in Philadelphia.

“From my point of view, the No. 1 (starter) is the guy that starts the first game of the season because that’s the hype,” Buchholz said. “I’ve been the No. 5, I’ve been the No. 2, I’ve been the No. 3. It seems like I’m always facing the aces of other staffs after the first or second week of the season, so I don’t think you can take it too far.

“It’s an honor, obviously, to do the Opening Day gig. But after that, there’s not a whole lot to it.”

Farrell said Sunday there’s already a plan on paper for how the Red Sox’s rotation will line up to begin the season, though he wouldn’t reveal the information. Only David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia have been with the Red Sox longer than Buchholz, though.

Perhaps the skipper will take that into consideration, especially since Boston lacks a clear-cut ace at this point.

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

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