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Clay Buchholz ‘can definitely relate’ to Drake Britton

03.11.13 at 10:37 am ET
By

Clay Buchholz

FORT MYERS, Fla. — When Clay Buchholz heard of Red Sox prospect Drake Britton‘s arrest on charges of driving under the influence and reckless driving, he did not immediately seek out the left-hander. Nonetheless, he can empathize with the spectrum of emotions and frustrations that Britton faces.

“He’s probably got enough stuff going on. It’s not my place to bring it up unless he wanted to bring it up to me,” said Buchholz. “But I can relate.”

Buchholz, of course, had his own instance of running afoul of the law. In 2004, when he was 19 years old, the right-hander was arrested for stealing laptops from a middle school. The arrest led to his dismissal from McNeese State, which he was attending on an athletic scholarship, and had implications for his baseball future in the draft, but those matters were not as significant to Buchholz as the shame and humiliation that the arrest brought on him and his family.

“Baseball wasn’t even in my mind when we were going through all that stuff,” said Buchholz. “That was the last thing on my mind until it got over and done with and I was able to think about it from a baseball standpoint. Baseball was the last thing on my mind.”

Yet in Buchholz’s case, while the episode is hardly one that he enjoys revisiting, he recognizes that it left an imprint on his life. Certainly, it forced him to take greater stock of the consequences of his actions and to become more mature about some of his life decisions. From a baseball standpoint, he ended up transferring from McNeese State (where he wouldn’t have been draft eligible until after the 2006 season) to Angelina Junior College, a school where he became draft eligible following his sophomore year.

The timing of his draft eligibility in 2005 (a year in which the Sox had five first-round picks), coupled with the questions about his makeup due to the arrest (which led to his dropping in the draft to a point beyond where his talent suggested he might be taken), were what led him into the Red Sox organization with the No. 42 overall pick in the 2005 draft.

“I think things happen for a reason,” said Buchholz, who acknowledged that he still does reflect on that episode in his life. “Obviously, you don’t ever want bad things to happen that hurt you or your family. I look back at it and if I hadn’t have gone through it, I probably would have stayed at McNeese for another year, wouldn’t have transferred to a junior college, wouldn’t have gotten drafted that year.”

Now, almost nine years removed from the arrest, the episode is an almost-forgotten part of Buchholz’s past. He’s married and is the father of a two-year-old daughter. He’s enjoyed professional success that has provided his family with what should be financial security for life.

There is a lesson there for Britton.

“Live and learn from your mistakes — that’s what it comes down to. You’re going to make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect,” said Buchholz. “Drake’s a good kid. He just messed up. He’s got to learn from it, and that’s the only thing I’d tell him — go down, do your work, stay on top of it, the organization knows you’re a good kid who made a mistake. Thousands of guys have made mistakes. You happen to be the one right now. Everybody knows that if something like that happens, you’re going to be postered up and made an example of. That’s just the way it is. I felt bad for him. Obviously, he felt bad for himself, felt like he let a lot of people down — that’s what he said. He’ll get through it and it will be in the past here soon enough.”

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