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Wakefield to the D.L., Buchholz recalled

07.21.09 at 5:05 pm ET
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The Red Sox will place Tim Wakefield on the disabled list with a lower back strain. In his place, Clay Buchholz will be recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket and will start Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. Wakefield tweaked his back in a recent side session. He has been placed on the D.L. retroactive to July 18. Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters that the injury is not to the knuckleballer’s shoulder.

Buchholz, who earned the win in the first Red Sox game of the second half, will be pitching with four days of rest. He allowed one run on four hits in 5.2 innings against the Blue Jays on Friday.

Wakefield (11-3, 4.31) is tied for the American League lead in wins with 11. He was named to his first All-Star team on the basis of that performance. He last pitched on July 8, earning a win by pitching six innings and allowing three runs.

This is the third time in four seasons that Wakefield has gone on the D.L., following a stint due to a shoulder strain last August and from July-Sept. 2006 with a stress fracture in his rib cage. He also missed time late in the 2007 season with a shoulder strain, but because rosters had expanded, he did not have to go on the D.L.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Tim Wakefield,

Dustin Pedroia on Dale & Holley

07.21.09 at 1:39 pm ET
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Here’s a transcript from this afternoon’s interview on the Dale & Holley Show with Dustin Pedroia (CLICK HERE to listen to the complete interview with Dale & Holley):

On the music he chose when he comes up to bat at Fenway: ‘€œI’€™m from the West Coast, it’€™s a little West Coast rap and I kind of like it.’€

On already writing a book at such a young age: ‘€œObviously I’€™m not very big and growing up I was a Giants fan and looked up to Barry Bonds and he’€™s really not my size or the type of player that I am. Just wanted to write about what I did to get to the big leagues, and I just kind of wanted to get my story out. It’€™s really so that kids and other people can know and say, if this guy can do it so can I. Maybe there will be a volume two somewhere down the road but I hope people enjoy this and like what they read.’€

On Tito saying he’€™ll read Pedroia’€™s new book when he’€™s in the bathroom: (Laughing) ‘€œI have to put up with him everyday, and it just gets worse and worse everyday. I don’€™t know how he does it.’€

On his close relationship with Tito: ‘€œIt started when I started getting hits. I don’€™t think he really wanted to talk to me when I was hitting .150 that April in ‘€™07. But I always try to keep the manager relaxed. I understand how tough baseball can be. Playing all these games is not easy, so I always try to keep the clubhouse relaxed and keep everybody not stressed out. Especially playing in Boston is tough. The expectation to win is so hard. I always joke around with everybody and that includes the manager. I’€™ll make fun of him’€¦ just to keep it relaxed. We’€™re all in this together and we’€™re trying to win.’€

On making stuff up as motivation: ‘€œYou always need motivation as a player. We play 162 games and I think everyone knows this game is not easy. You’€™re going to hit tough patches in the road and you have to find ways to motivate yourself and your team and I think that’€™s the biggest thing for a player like me. Everyday I have to bring energy to the team, that’€™s my job. I have to get on base and score runs and do the little things to help us win. There are certain times when I’€™m not hitting well at the plate or seeing the ball good, but I have to find a way and motivating myself is the biggest thing to help my team win.’€

On not being recognized as a player during 2007 World Series in Colorado: ‘€œIt was kind of crazy. We won the first two games and headed to Colorado, and I get to the field around one o’€™ clock. I’€™m one of the first guys there. I take a cab, I get there and the guy stops me and he says, what’€™re you doing here? I say, well gee I’€™m here to play baseball. We’€™ve got the World Series going on, I’€™m not sure if you’€™ve been watching. He says, well you need to have ID. So I get my wallet and give him my players identification card and he just looks at me and goes, you can get this anywhere kid’€¦ After about three or four minutes I finally snap on the guy and tell him, I’€™m the guy leading off the World Series with bombs. I don’€™t hit many homeruns so I had to throw that out there. The guy kind of laughed and I ended up just walking in. Once I got to the clubhouse I told everyone about it and they were making fun of me, and they’€™re still making fun of me today.’€

On being injured badly playing for Team USA: ‘€œIt’€™s the toughest thing I’€™ve been through while playing. I’€™m the kind of guy who will put his body through anything. You know, I’€™ll dive into first base. I have no fear. My dad always told me, you have to play a hundred percent otherwise you’€™re going to get hurt. We were playing Amsterdam and there was this ground ball that just took a bad hop, and it shattered my face. It broke six bones under my eye and one above it. My eye didn’€™t open up for a couple weeks and we had all these tests done’€¦ Right when I got back from that I didn’€™t want to take a groundball, I was scared. I talked to Harvey Dorfman, a sports psychologist about it, and he’€™s one of the greatest guys in baseball. He just told me, for a guy like you to be scared of things on the baseball field, you’€™re never going to make it. You have to put your face to the ball, you have to get in front of the ball, and you have to do the little things to help your team win.’€

On people criticizing his size and what he’€™s done to strengthen his body: ‘€œI was a lot fatter. I was always short and kind of chubby. In ‘€™06 I got called up and Theo said, you have to get yourself in the best shape possible, you have to lose weight, you have to trim body fat if you want to come in here and fight for the second baseman’€™s job in ‘€™07. And I’€™ll tell you what, that offseason was unbelievable. I ran three times a day, push-ups, and pull-ups ‘€“ all core work to try to lose body fat. And I’€™ve never really done that before. I’€™ve always been a guy who’€™ll go in there and lift weights. I never thought running was a part of my game’€¦ I dedicated myself. I ran, I ate where it was to a point where I pulled out a measuring cup and put vegetables in there. It was kind of a little overboard, but I knew that if I could lose that weight it would make me a better player.’€

On whether he could play shortstop in the big leagues today: ‘€œI’€™d like to think I can, but the organization decided to move me to second base a few years ago and I’€™ve kind of taken to it. I won a gold glove last year and I always joke around with Tito about how I could play shortstop. And he always reminds me of when I got called up in ‘€™06 and Derek Jeter hit me a ground ball and I threw it 15 rows into the stands at Yankee Stadium‘€¦ I know I could play there but my best position is second base.’€

On the Red Sox recent offensive troubles: ‘€œIt’€™s just a rough patch. We were talking about it on the bus how it’€™s not easy and it never is. Obviously in ‘€™07 and ‘€™08, the two years I was here before, we had some great teams and won a World Series’€¦ but there are always bumps in the road. There are always times when you lose three in a row, and the Yankees win three in a row, and it gets tied. It’€™s always a tight race. But you just have to rely on your teammates and believe that we’€™re going to be all right’€¦ We need to get ourselves in a position where we get everyone on the same page and get everyone hot at the same time. We’€™re going to be a good team when we do.’€

On challenges as a second baseman dealing with so many shortstops throughout the season (Lugo, Lowrie, Green): ‘€œI’€™m comfortable with all of them. We’€™ve spent enough time taking ground balls before BP and stuff. So that parts not the thing. Jed’€™s injuries at the beginning of the year were unfortunate. And Julio, we played together for a couple of years and got comfortable. And Greenie’€™s done an incredible job coming in and playing for us. But we’€™re all on the same page defensively and it doesn’€™t matter who’€™s coming in and playing for us.’€

On being more comfortable hitting second than in the leadoff spot: ‘€œLast year I hit second most of the year. In ‘€™07 I hit ninth and then leadoff for most of the time until Jacoby got called up’€¦ I’€™m more of a situational guy’€¦ I love being up there in a situation where I could do a lot of things to help our team at bat.’€

On what his teammates have said to him about his new book and the 2009 Red Sox in general: ‘€œWell first off, I don’€™t even know if half of our team can read. We don’€™t have the sharpest guys here. You know what, I don’€™t know. With our team, everyone loves everyone. We’€™ve got a lot of guys here on the same page. We get to the field early, we hang out together. It’€™s a special group, and I’€™m looking forward to how the season plays out. We’€™ve got a lot of guys who care about winning and when you have that you have a special team.’€

Book signings at Barnes & Noble on Boylston St. (Thursday 5:00 PM) and Willow Books in Acton (Thursday 9:00 PM)

Read More: Dustin Pedroia,

Red Sox/Rangers match-ups

07.21.09 at 12:54 pm ET
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(Courtesy Greg Cameron)

After last night’€™s loss against the Texas Rangers last night, the Red Sox look to get back to their winning ways. Tonight, they’€™re looking at their ace, Josh Beckett, to right the ship.

The all-star and Texas native comes into tonight’€™s game with a 11-3 record and 3.35 ERA. Beckett’€™s last outing proved to be a successful one as the right-hander tossed a complete game gem against the Kansas City Royals on July 12.

Here’€™s how the current Ranger lineup has fared against Beckett over the years:

Andruw Jones (36 plate appearances) .250 avg./.333 OBP/.250 SLG % (9 SO)

Marlon Byrd (22) .333/.455/.445 (1 HR, 3 RBI)

Michael Young (12) .083/.083/.083 (3 SO, 1 H)

Hank Blalock (8) .286/.375/.286

Omar Vizquel (7).143/.143/.143

Nelson Cruz (2).000/.000/.000

Josh Hamilton (2) .500/.500/.500

Ian Kinsler (2) .500/.500/1.000 (2B)

Beckett has yet to face Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus, David Murphy and Taylor Teagarden.

The Red Sox have only faced tonight’€™s Rangers starter, Tommy Hunter, in an abbreviated sampling. Hunter lasted just 1.2 innings on Aug. 14 giving up nine earned runs and a home run in his only other start against the Red Sox.

The tall and hefty righty made his major league debut deep in the heart of Texas last August and struggled mightily, surrendering four home runs and 20 earned runs in just 11 innings of work.

Hunter, a 22-year old right-hander has pitched well thus far for manager Ron Washington‘€™s Texas club, as the ship looks to have been righted this year; Hunter comes into tonight’€™s contest with a 1-1 record and a 2.35 ERA.

Here’€™s how the Red Sox fared that afternoon against Hunter:

Jason Bay: (2) 1-2 RBI

J.D. Drew: (2)0-2

David Ortiz: 1-2 (3-run HR)

Dustin Pedroia: 1-2 (2B, RBI)

Kevin Youkilis: (2)2-2 (2B)

Jed Lowrie :(1)1-1

Jason Varitek: (1)0-1

Ken Rosenthal on Dale and Holley

07.21.09 at 11:22 am ET
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Here are some of the highlights from Dale and Holley’s interview with FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal (courtesy Greg Cameron):

On Roy  Halladay staying in the Great White North: ‘€œI’€™ve not been convinced that he’€™d be a member of the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of the month. I said my opinion that the front-runners were the Phillies and Yankees.’€

On which teams have the proper compensation to get a deal done for Halladay: ‘€œIt depends on the team. Certain teams have the right mix of both to get this done. My opinion is that Phildelphia is the only team that has the prospects, the financial flexibility and prospects. The Red Sox have the prospects, the financial flexibility, but not necessarily the desire. It makes the most sense that the Phillies would get him.’€

On if the Mets could be big-time players in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes: ‘€œThe Mets are making the playoffs with or without Roy Halladay. They ranked 13th in rotation ERA. The division race is only one element here. If you want to go deep in the playoffs, you’€™re going to need more than what the Phillies currently have.’€

On which big names players not named Roy Halladay could be on the move: ‘€œMatt Holliday is certainly an interesting guy. I’€™m not sure he will get traded. Interest is fairly minimal. The team to watch is Cleveland. Will they move Victor Martinez or Cliff Lee. I’€™ve heard that the price for either is high.’€

On what the Red Sox could be looking for at the Trading Deadline: ‘€œThe Red Sox as always are always a player on this front, and I know that they’€™re looking for offensive help.’€

On if he has talked to scouts about John Smoltz‘€™s outing and what the Sox could do at the deadline: ‘€œI didn’€™t talk with any this morning just yet. At some point you need to see results. I would not rush to trade, in fact I’€™d be really reluctant to trade Brad Penny. My guess is that Theo will hold onto his depth unless he gets a deal he really likes for Brad Penny.’€

On the Yankees making a big deal at the dealine: ‘€œIt sure sounds like it what you hear from Yankees GM Brian Cashman, he has explained the decision not to get Johan Santana. I would be surprised if both the Yankees and Red Sox make a truly significant deal.’€

On a possible destination for Halladay: ‘€œI’€™m in agreement with that. It depends on which team. This guy is a tremendous difference maker. In Philadelphia, you’€™d have Hamels and Halladay, look at the Dodgers you’€™d have Halladay on top of Billingsley and Kershaw.’€

On the slumping economy’€™s impact on the impending Trading Deadline: ‘€œIt’€™s funny the economy is no doubt having an effect on the Deadline. But not that effect. Teams aren’€™t really looking to dump. Not even Pittsburgh. Oakland is willing to hold on to Matt Holliday and get dfraft picks in return if they don’€™t get the deal they want.’€

On ownership’€™s influence on a prospective Halladay deal and J.P. Ricciardi’€™s status as Blue Jay’€™s GM: ‘€œI’€™m not sure ownership is driving this, what they’€™re saying is that this is baseball-driven and his maximum value is right now. Ricciardi’€™s status is an interesting question. But there is an awful amount of bad money on the books. That ultimately reflects on JP. Where Theo has made only a couple of mistakes, he had VW and Rios. And don’€™t forget BJ Ryan.

On Toronto owner Paul Beeston’€™s influence in player personnel decisions: ‘€œI would say that he has a lot of influence in that. If you look at it from a baseball sense it makes sense to trade him, you wouldn’€™t be able to sign him long term.’€

‘€œIf you’€™re a responsible GM you act in the team’€™s best interest. Pat Gillick refused to trade their best guys knowing that wouldn’€™t be proper for the organization. We’€™ve seen teams do this in the past. Look at Cleveland last year. Was CC Sabathia the best deal for them? Long-term, yes. They knew they weren’€™t going to be able to sign him. There are certain in a mid-small revenue team when you have to makes these calls. Not every team can operate like the Yankees and Red Sox. There’€™s a certain perspective in NY and Boston. It’€™s much different from Milwaukee, Kansas City and Toronto.

On Ricciardi reportedly asking Mets GM Omar Minaya on a Halladay deal involving four top prospects in the Mets chain: ‘€œHalladay wants to win. Why would he approve that trade? Even if it were accurate, it was probably just a ‘€˜hey this is what it would take?’€™’€

 

Lugo a Met? Not Just Yet…

07.21.09 at 1:46 am ET
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Several reports in recent days have indicated that shortstop Julio Lugo, whom the Red Sox designated for assignment on Friday, is expected to sign with the Mets next week. The Sox have 10 days from last Friday to either trade or release Lugo, and presuming that there are no takers for him on the trade market, it would appear likely that he will gain his free agency after clearing waivers (which would be requested on July 27) on July 29.

Yet it would appear that his signing with the Mets, while possible, is not a foregone conclusion. According to a major-league source, the Red Sox contacted the Mets earlier this season and sought little to nothing in return for Lugo, at a time when the Mets’ injury situation was sufficiently dire that the team seemed like it needed middle infield help. Moreover, at that time, the Mets were still very much in the division race, with more incentive to make a deal than they have now (as they try to determine whether to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline). Even so, at that time, the Mets had sufficient reservations about the shortstop that they declined the trade offer for him, even at minimal cost.

While there is a chance that the Mets might sign Lugo once he is released, the team has shown little urgency to acquire him when given prior opportunities. As for reports of Lugo’€™s presence at the Mets academy in the Dominican, that should not necessarily be interpreted as a sign of an imminent deal. Lugo worked out at the Mets’ facility in Boca Chica ‘€“ which was opened last summer, and is considered an excellent one ‘€“ this past winter, when he was still a member of the Red Sox. A deal certainly could happen for Lugo and the Mets, but it appears somewhat premature to treat such a development as a certainty.

If Lugo is released and signs a major-league contract with another team, the Sox would be on the hook for the remainder of his salary minus the prorated amount (likely a percentage of the league minimum) for which he signs. If Lugo signs a minor-league deal, the Sox do not begin getting salary relief unless or until he is called up to the majors.

Read More: Julio Lugo,

Red Sox at Rangers Match-Ups, 7/20

07.20.09 at 6:21 pm ET
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RED SOX VS. MILLWOOD

Kevin Millwood last pitched against the Sox on June 5, going seven innings and giving up one run on seven hits with five strikeouts in a 5-1 win at Fenway. Yet as of late Millwood has not been the same pitcher. He has lost his last two outings while giving up 13 earned runs, including three home runs in 11 innings.

The second-place Rangers are still in a fight for the AL West title, only three games back of the Angels. A resurgent Millwood would be a huge help to their chances of staying in the race. Millwood has his work cut out against the Sox, who have a combined .324 average against him.

Mike Lowell (66 plate appearances against Millwood): .316 average/.409 OBP/.526 slugging, 2 homers, 13 RBI, 8 strikeouts

Mark Kotsay (56): .269/.321/.423, 2 home runs, 4 walks , 6 RBI, 16 strikeouts

JD Drew (32): .333/.438/.481, 1 home run, 5 walks, 6 RBI, 7 strikouts
Jason Varitek (29): .407/.448/.556, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

David Ortiz (26): .364/.423/.773, 3 home runs, 3 walks, 9 RBI

Kevin Youkilis (15): .500/.600/.583, 3 walks, 1 strikeout

Jacoby Ellsbury (11): 3-for10, walk

Dustin Pedroia (11): 1-for-9, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Jason Bay (10): 3-for-10, 2 strikeouts,

Jed Lowrie (7): 1-for-6, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Brad Penny (6): 1-for-6, 2 strikeouts

Nick Green (5): 1-for4, 1 RBI

Rocco Baldelli (4): 3-for-4, 1 RBI

 

RANGERS VS. SMOLTZ

While three starts is not nearly enough to judge John Smoltz‘ post-surgery performance, he has been improving of late. Smoltz won his last decision just before the All-Star break, pitching five innings and surrendering a run while striking out seven in his best outing to date. The Sox would welcome another such performance after dropping two of three in Toronto and seeing their division lead dwindle to a single game over the Yankees.

Smoltz’ four games against the Rangers have all come in the form of relief appearances. He has three saves in four innings of work with six strikeouts.

Omar Vizquel (20 plate appearances against Smoltz): .200 average/.200 OBP/ .200 slugging, 1 strikeout

Marlon Byrd (9): 2-for-9, 3 strikeouts

Jason Jennings (1): 0-for-1

Vincente Padilla (1): 0-for-1, 1 strikeout

Read More: john smoltz, kevin millwood,

Red Sox vs. Blue Jays Match-ups, 7/18

07.18.09 at 9:33 am ET
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RED SOX VS. MARC RZEPCZYNKSI

Sorry for the late update, but Marc Rzepzynski was given the start today over the initially-slated Brian Tallet. Rzepczynski has pitched two games this season, his first, and has never faced the Red Sox.

BLUE JAYS VS. BRAD PENNY

It was hard to tell what the Red Sox would be getting out of Penny back when they signed him to a one-year, $5million deal in January. If his last eight starts are any indication, he is someone who would most likely be left in the rotation come the playoffs.

There is no doubt that Penny isn’€™t an innings eater anymore by any stretch of the imagination, but since May 10 the righty has a 3.38 ERA, though the Red Sox have won just three of those starts. Penny is 1-2 in that span.

Penny has faced Toronto once this season, six innings in a 5-3 Sox loss. He struck out five and gave up three runs, only two of which were earned. Here’€™s how Toronto hitters have done against him:

Scott Rolen (37): .286 / .324 / .429, 3 RBI, BB, 3 SO
Rod Barajas (15): .267 / .267 / .333, 2 RBI, 6 SO
David Dellucci (13): .077 / .077 / .154, 4 SO
Jose Bautista (12): .091 / .167 / .091, BB, 4 SO
Aaron Hill (12): .250 / .250 / .250, RBI, 2 SO
Adam Lind (12): .167 / .167 / .417, homer, 2 RBI, 4 SO
Alex Rios (12): .727 / .750 / 1.091, RBI, BB, SO
Vernon Wells (12): .083 / .083 / .083
Lyle Overbay (9): 2-for-8, double, triple, BB, SO
Marco Scutaro (7): 1-for-6, BB
Raul Chavez (3): 1-for-3, SO
Kevin Millar (3): 0-for-2, BB

Read More: Penny, Tallet,

Source: Lugo designated for assignment

07.17.09 at 1:04 pm ET
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According to a source familiar with the situation, the Red Sox have designated Julio Lugo for assignment. The Red Sox will have 10 days to assign Lugo’s contract to another major or minor league club, whether it be via trade or through waivers. Lugo is finishing the third of a four-year deal which pays him $10 million per season. Lugo is hitting .284 in 37 games with the Red Sox this season.

The 33-year-old Lugo, who was signed to a four-year, $36 million contract prior to the 2007 season, played in 266 games with the Red Sox, hitting a combined .251 with an on-base percentage of .319 and slugging percentage of .346. With the Sox Lugo totaled 10 home runs, 103 RBI, and 48 stolen bases. 

Lugo was hampered by injuries the last two seasons, with a torn quadriceps muscle sidelining him for the second half in 2008, and torn meniscus in his right knee forcing him to miss the start of this season.

Red Sox vs. Blue Jays Match-ups, 7/17

07.17.09 at 12:53 pm ET
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RED SOX VS. RICKY ROMERO

The 44-46 Blue Jays, amidst rumors that they could be dealing their ace, apparently have a man who could anchor the rotation in the eventual absence of Roy Halladay. Just 24 years old, Ricky Romero has been stellar for the Blue Jays and could be AL Rookie of the Year despite battling a right oblique muscle strain.

In 13 starts this season, the left-handed Romero has gone 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA and has 69 strikeouts in 87 innings. One could say the young man has been dominant.

Just not against the Red Sox.

On May 31 at Fenway, Romero gave up five earned in his only start against Boston to date, an 8-2 loss. Dustin Pedroia did most of the damage, hitting a three-run dinger with two out in the fourth, which proved to be Romero’s last inning of the game. That loss dropped his record to 2-2, but he’s gone 5-1 and pitched at least 6 1/3 innings in all eight starts since then. He’s pitched at least seven in all but two of those and has gone eight in two of the last three.

Romero, drafted sixth overall by Toronto in 2005, uses a slider and a 12-6 curve to compliment a low-90’s fastball. Here’s how Red Sox hitters did against him back in May:

Jason Bay (3 career plate appearances vs. Romero): 1-for-1, double, 2 BB
J.D. Drew (3): 1-for-3, 2 SO
Dustin Pedroia (3): 1-for-3, homer, 3 RBI
Kevin Youkilis (3): 1-for-2, homer, RBI, BB
Jacoby Ellsbury (2): 1-for-1
Nick Green (2): 0-for-1, BB, SO
David Ortiz (2): 1-for-2, double
Jason Varitek (2): 0-for-1, BB

BLUE JAYS VS. CLAY BUCHHOLZ

If there’s a single baseball fan in the country (actually, make that Canada, too) who doesn’t know who is starting for the Red Sox tonight, I am astonished. After months of re-establishing himself as a pitcher in Pawtucket, Clay Buchholzis finally making his first start of the season for the Sox.

‘€œIt’€™s hard to sit here and try to do more than what I’€™ve been doing,’€ said Buchholz of his Pawtucket situation back in early June. ‘€œI don’€™t think I need to do any more. It’€™s just a matter of, when the time comes, for me to be ready whenever they do give me that call.’€

The time has finally come, though it won’t last long at all. Terry Francona indicated on Sunday that it would simply be a spot-start to give the rotation an extra day of rest.

Buchholz’ situation is an interesting one. Everyone knows about his no-no in his second start in ’07, but Buchholz himself believes that he should not have been in the big-league rotation in 2008 because he still wasn’t ready. Buchholz was proven right, and the results weren’t pretty:  a 2-9 record with a 6.75 ERA.

In 16 games for Pawtucket this season (including a relief appearance for John Smoltz), Buchholz has posted a 2.36 ERA to go with a 7-2 record. He has 85 strikeouts in 93 innings and a WHIP of 0.95. Here’s how Blue Jays hitters have fared against him.

Kevin Millar (7 career plate appearances vs. Buchholz): 0-for-5, 2 BB, 4 SO
Vernon Wells (6): 0-for-4, 2 BB
Alex Rios (5): 1-for-5, double, SO
Aaron Hill (4): 1-for-4, 2 SO
Lyle Overbay (4): 2-for-4, RBI, SO
Adam Lind (2): 1-for-2, SO
Marco Scutaro (2): 0-for-1, SO, BB
Rod Barajas (1): walk
John McDonald (1): 1-for-1, double, RBI

Here’s a Full Count “Did You Know?”: The Red Sox were the only team in the majors who planned on drafting Buchholz as a pitcher in 2005. They stuck to their guns and took him with a sandwich pick (Pedro Martinez) and the rest is history.

Read More: Buchholz, Halladay, Romero,

Amidst Rumors, Buchholz Unveiled

07.17.09 at 1:53 am ET
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PAWTUCKET ‘€“ With the sappy euphoria of All-Star week behind us, it’€™s time to get down to brass tacks.

The Red Sox are only three games up on the Yankees in a tight AL East race; Tampa Bay and their big bats are ready to pounce at only 6.5 games behind; and the Fenway faithful is hungry for another championship. The pressure is on Boston to win, and in the next 2½ months they’€™ll try everything they can to do just that ‘€“ perhaps including a shuffling around of players currently on the roster.

Roy Halladay has been the focal point of trade rumors ever since Toronto G.M. J.P. Ricciardi publicly declared that he would be shopping the Blue Jays’ ace. The prospect of sporting a pitching staff that includes a top three of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Halladay (not to mention Smoltz, Wakefield, Penny and perhaps Matsuzaka) would border on excessive. 

If the Sox were to trade for the Cy Young Award-winning Halladay, the package might have to include prized prospect Clay Buchholz. The 24-year-old righty has had a most unusual career with Boston thus far: in only his second game with the club, Buchholz threw a no-hitter against Baltimore before going 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA during the 2008 season.

This year Buchholz has pitched for Triple-A Pawtucket, where he’€™s been completely dominant, going 7-2 with a 2.36 ERA.

‘€œBuch’€™s an interesting guy because he burst onto the scene with a no-hitter, but he still had development left,’€ said Pawtucket Manager Ron Johnson. ‘€œI think the organization made a really good call with him last year by sending him to the Fall League, and we’€™re reaping the benefits of it right now because he’€™s put together a really fine season.’€

On Friday, Buchholz finally gets to make his first major league start of 2009 as the Sox head to Toronto. The call-up is described by Sox officials as likely being a one-and-done affair, with the pitcher expected to be sent back to the minors afterwards.

But the fact that the game will take place in Toronto certainly adds to the intrigue given the Halladay rumors. Blue Jays scouts were in attendance at his last start in Pawtucket on Sunday, but Buchholz hasn’€™t let the trade rumors affect him.

‘€œIt never really was an issue for me,’€ Buchholz said on Sunday. ‘€œEverything happens for a reason, so if something like that was to happen then you just have to take it for what it’€™s worth and you go on with your career. But I plan to be with the Red Sox for a long time.’€

Some wonder whether the call-up is simply an opportunity for Boston to showcase the young flamethrower to Toronto before a potential trade. But Buchholz said he completely disagrees and, above all else, he’€™s just excited to be back in the big leagues.

His teammates have adopted a similar attitude, choosing to mostly ignore the trade talk and instead focus on playing the game.

‘€œIt’€™s uncontrollable and there’€™s nothing I can do, so I don’€™t worry about it,’€ said Pawtucket pitcher Michael Bowden, another highly touted Sox prospect. ‘€œThere are so many other things that go into this game that you need to focus on, and you can’€™t let that stuff get in your head.’€

Shortstop Jed Lowrie, who has played with Buchholz in Pawtucket while rehabbing this season, remembers when his name came up in trade talks for another big time pitcher in 2007: Johan Santana. Dealing with the rumors, Lowrie said, wasn’€™t too bad at all.

‘€œI found it relatively simply,’€ Lowrie said. ‘€œRumors are rumors, and getting traded is all part of the business. You just have to always prepare yourself for something like that, and if it happens you have to go into the situation with the best attitude you can.’€

While Buchholz certainly seems to have the right attitude, it’€™s the powers that be who will ultimately decide his fate.

Johnson knows this, and that’€™s why he’€™s not sweating about Buchholz’€™s future either.

‘€œI’€™m not going to play GM on this thing,’€ Johnson said. ‘€œClay Buchholz is going to prepare to pitch for the Red Sox and do the best he can. What happens after that, it’€™s up to the guys upstairs. We’€™ve got some smart guys up there.’€

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Michael Bowden, Pawtucket
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