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The maturation of Clay Buchholz

03.15.11 at 10:46 am ET
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Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz has thrown nine shutout innings in spring training this year. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz spent the early morning steering a remote control hover craft around the Red Sox clubhouse. He buzzed both himself and some teammates with it, as well as Triple-A pitching coach Rich Sauveur.

Sauveur’s reaction to the deed was somewhat unexpected.

“There’s a man down there playing with that little hover craft. I’m amazed by him, how much he’s grown and matured,” said Sauveur, who was Buchholz’ pitching coach in Pawtucket in both 2008 (when he was rehabbing from a DL stint and then working to improve his fastball) and 2009 (when he spent the first half of the year in Triple-A. “He’s matured so well.”

Sauveur talked about how different it was to see Buchholz with his wife and baby, his life now focused on his family and profession. He has seen growth from the pitcher on the mound — it was in Pawtucket that Buchholz refined his two-seam fastball in 2009; in the majors last year, he added a cutter — but he noted that the pitcher’s breakout season in 2010 (17-7, 2.33 ERA) was not dictated by the addition of those pitches.

“It wasn’t about stuff with him. It was about the mental part, the maturity. You can look back at any interview that was done about him. It was always, ‘When this kid matures, look out.’ I remember saying it, probably said it every time I did an interview about him – this kid is going to have a long career. It’s just a matter of when he decides it’s going to be,” said Sauveur. “He decided it was going to be last year. It’s amazing.”

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