PAWTUCKET – At least Clay Buchholz’ trip to McCoy Stadium was not a complete washout – no pun intended, considering the deluge that blanketed the area all day Friday.
Not long after meeting with several reporters, and hearing the game was called off, Buchholz went out to shallow left field to play catch with pitching coach Rich Sauveur. Throwing from roughly 30 feet, the session was brief, and ended with Buchholz signing autographs for a crowd of youngsters that had gathered above the third-base dugout.
The right-hander’s quest to make what he hopes will be a one-game tune-up in the minors will now take place today, in the first game of a doubleheader that begins at 5:05 p.m. Buchholz is expected to work in the neighborhood of five innings and/or 65-75 pitches against Charlotte.
“Usually rehab assignments are about going out there and gradually building your arm strength,” Buchholz. “I haven’t stopped throwing. I’ve been throwing bullpens the whole time. I feel that my arm strength has gotten even better just by playing long toss.
“If everything goes fine (Saturday) and there’s no hiccups, I don’t see a reason (to make a second rehab start) unless they want to see me throw another game,” he said.
“Hopefully this will be my only one. I want to go out and execute to the best of my ability. This is about refining what you’ve done in game situations. Triple A and the big leagues … there isn’t that big of a difference as far as talent and everything. Just about everyone here has gotten a taste of the big leagues or are on their way to getting there.”
Buchholz is chomping at the bit to test the alterations he has made to his delivery since landing on the disabled list on May 27 with what the Red Sox called a hyper-extended left knee. More truthfully, Buchholz was placed on the shelf due to ineffectiveness (2-4 with 7.02 ERA in 10 starts with Boston this season).
“In this game, you’re judged off of results even when people say that results don’t matter. It’s about winning games and when you don’t, it has to be pointed at somebody,” he said. “I wasn’t doing my job up there in putting the team in a position to win games consistently. This is what (the rehab) is about. The only way you gain confidence is when you get back to that level and produce the results that you want.”
Not being on a strict starter’s schedule has enabled Buchholz to throw longer bullpen sessions. He says that the last three to four sessions featured in the neighborhood of 45-65 pitches along with “a little bit higher effort level than I usually throw when I’m on a five-day routine.” He also tossed a simulated game that he says yielded encouraging results.
“There’s been some more effort going into it. Bullpens are more of a touch-and-feel thing leading up to a start. When you don’t have a start to prepare for, it’s more about going out and getting game simulation,” Buchholz said.
Citing that confidence comes from positive results, Buchholz touched upon the work he’s done in the hope of resembling the pitcher that has been selected to two All-Star teams, not the pitcher who went on the disabled list with the dubious distinction of owning the highest earned run average among qualified pitchers.
“When it becomes second nature, that’s when you can bring it into a game and not have to think about it. That’s where I feel like I’m at right now,” Buchholz said. “The (tweaks) were small in what they look like but big inside the delivery. Doing one thing that’s a little off in anybody’s delivery … I was put in a position to fail from the jump.”
Working on seven days’ rest, Anthony Ranaudo will draw the mound assignment for the PawSox in the second game. On Sunday, Felix Doubront is scheduled to make his second rehab start for Pawtucket.
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