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Clay Buchholz on simulated game: ‘Something that’s going to get me moving forward’

06.08.14 at 9:56 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz said he could see improvement in his mechanics during a simulated game on Sunday. (AP)

Clay Buchholz said he could see improvement in his mechanics during a simulated game on Sunday. (AP)

Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz — on the disabled list for a hyperextended knee, but utilizing the time on the sidelines to address the mechanical issues that led to a 7.02 ERA through 10 starts — deemed a 48-pitch simulated game “something that’s going to get me moving forward” based on the improvements he felt in his delivery. But even with a sense of improvement, the Red Sox will have him work in more game settings — either another simulated game or, seemingly more likely, a minor league rehab assignment.

“The four pitches that he threw each had what you’d expect their definition to be and the shape to them. Physically came out of it fine. No issues with the knee. And we’ll kind of put our heads together on what the next step is for him. But I think it’s going to be important to get into some game activity,” Sox manager John Farrell told reporters. “I think we’ll all get together on what those next steps are going to be. But I think it’s important to deal with game speed and the environment that a game will provide, so those are my initial thoughts.”

Buchholz suggested that he’s been working to correct an over-rotation in his delivery that has had him falling off the mound towards first base this year. He suggested that the root of the issue may have been a byproduct of compensating for last year’s shoulder injury.

“Especially in the windup, my leg kick, I was rotating — I’ve done that in the past. It’s just been easier in the past to overcome. That’s one of the main things we’ve been working on in side sessions, staying over the rubber, not rotating as much as I’m falling forward. It makes the arm late,” Buchholz told reporters. “Last year, I had to figure out a way to throw that I didn’t feel altered in any way, that I didn’t feel anything hurting. I’m sure a couple of things in my delivery changed last year without even trying, too, just human nature. If something hurts, you try to do it differently. I’m sure that followed me into spring training this year. It just took me a little longer to do it than I wanted to.”

Still, Buchholz said that progress was evident even in Sunday’s side session.

“Whenever I was a little bit late today, I was able to correct to the next pitch instead of a whole bunch of baserunners and an inning blowing up on me. It was a lot better today,” Buchholz told reporters. “I feel like it was a straight line going to the plate, but being over-rotated makes you throw across your body, and that’s sort of why I was falling off a lot to the first-base side. The direction was a lot better today. Whenever I did mess up, I was able to fix it within the pitch.”

That progress, in turn, underscored the logic of the Sox taking a conservative approach with Buchholz’s knee hyperextension and giving the pitcher an opportunity to address some of the issues that had taken him from the starter with the best ERA in the majors last year (by a starter with at least 100 innings pitched) to its worst (min. 50 innings).

“I want to be out there. I want to help the team win,” Buchholz told reporters. “That’s why I’m using this time to get right. Every time I ran out there, it was up in the air how it was going to go. To put that stress and strain on the bullpen after that skid we went on, it was tough for everybody. I didn’t want to go on the DL. I wanted to try to get through it. But I think it was the best thing.”
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