Clay Buchholz: 'You can't replace Jon Lester'

August 01, 2014 - 1:29 pm

The new clubhouse dynamics took a while to comprehend. Clay Buchholz's belongings had relocated to John Lackey's old locker, the one tucked into a corner reserved for a veteran leader of a pitching staff. The position wasn't far from his former station -- just two lockers down -- but it represented an adjustment for Buchholz to wrap his head around the notion that he was now the lone established big leaguer in the Red Sox rotation, something that he acknowledged was "a little bit" strange. "I don't feel like I'm old by any means. Time passes pretty quickly in this game," said Buchholz. "I've been able to learn a lot from all of the guys who have come through and left. I've been able to make some really good friends, too. I feel like this is just how it's going to be, for this year, at least, and just figure it out. "One of those things. Things happen, another team is in the same situation we were in last year. We were trying to add guys to our roster to win a World Series. That's what other teams are doing right now. It just so happens that a couple of our guys are going to try to help another team win this year." Lackey, a teammate of Buchholz's for the last five years, is gone (having been traded to the Cardinals on Thursday), as is Jon Lester, who had been teammates with Buchholz for every one of his days in the big leagues dating to 2007. The departure of Lester creates a void atop the Red Sox rotation. How can it be filled? "You can't. You can't replace Jon Lester," said Buchholz. "That's sort of, in a nutshell, there's no one on this staff who can go in there and do what he did. You can try to be as good, but everybody knows how good Jon Lester is and what he meant to this team over the past seven, eight years." Given that reality, Buchholz remained hopeful that the deal that sent Lester to the Athletics for the rest of this year represents an interruption rather than a conclusion to his time in the Red Sox rotation. Buchholz is mindful that Lester will be a free agent this winter, and hopeful that the inability of the Sox to reach an extension with Lester does not foreclose the possibility of bringing him back to Boston this winter. "As far as offseason signings, the Red Sox still have a chance to go after him if that's what they want to do," said Buchholz.