Red Sox pregame notes: Searching for Clay Buchholz; why A.J. Pierzynski is starting over David Ross

May 22, 2014 - 11:07 am
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The Red Sox need Clay Buchholz to begin to get things going again soon in order for the greater success of the team. To say that the righty has been ineffective this season would be an understatement. Through his first nine starts, Buchholz has given up more than four earned runs on four occasions and has only pitched seven innings once this season. After another lackluster start from Buchholz Wednesday night, manager John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves sat down in the Fenway Park video room and tried to diagnose the issues that have plagued the righty. "[Clay]'s not repeating his delivery right now," Farrell said. "He's making mistakes and he's been up in the strike zone and he's been in the middle of the plate and last night, more than we've seen this season, he pitched behind in the count a lot and that's from lack of repeating his delivery as much as needed." Farrell says that Buchholz has no restrictions physically and has not complained about any ailments. Farrell and Nieves talked to Buchholz Thursday morning after reviewing his mechanics. "He's not in the most confident state as we've seen," Farrell said. "If we look at right now compared to this point last year, there are some differences and gradually, pitch by pitch, not to be cliche, but pitch by pitch, we have to rebuild that confidence." Buchholz, who is 2-4 with a 6.32 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, .341 batting average against and has struck out 35 in 47 innings pitched, has gone through similar stretches of ineffectiveness, most notably in 2008 and through the end of May in 2012. In 2008, Buchholz posted a 6.75 ERA with a 1.763 WHIP and a .299 batting average against in 16 starts. Through the end of May in 2012, Buchholz posted a 7.19 ERA with a 1.83 WHIP and a .328 batting average against. Specifically addressing the 2008 struggles, Farrell said that Buchholz has significantly transformed his pitching style since that time period. "He was a flyball/strikeout pitcher," Farrell said. "He evolved into more of a groundball [pitcher] and the ground ballrates bear that out. He became a much different pitcher through some physical adjustments to his delivery [as well as] the increased use of his two-seamer, the further development of his cutter. There were a number of things that took place at that time. Just from a delivery standpoint, it's not a makeover like he went through at that point, but there are some adjustments that are needed." Farrell hopes to see Buchholz create greater disparity between his fastball and off-speed offerings. "What we're striving for is one of the two, curveball or changeup, to create some velocity or separation and disrupt timing," Farrell said. "Right now, when he's pressed to make a pitch, he has gone to a pitch that has been hard in velocity, whether it's his fastball or cutter. We've got to get back to the point to change speeds more consistently, and for strikes, not just to throw it for the sake of throwing it." Most importantly, Buchholz knows he needs to be pitching better. "[Clay] knows he's better," Farrell said. "He's disappointed in what's taken place so far. There have been glimpses or individual games where it's been more Clay-like, but he knows that he's got to improve" OTHER RED SOX NOTES -- Farrell said that the Red Sox are currently looking at the schedules of their minor league affiliates in order to formulate a schedule that will allow shortstop Stephen Drew to work his way back to full game speed. Drew, who has not played a game since Game 7 of the World Series, will spend nine to 10 days in the minors to accumulate around 25 plate appearances. -- Mike Napoli is sitting out again in Thursday's series finale with the Blue Jays as he continues to deal with flu-like symptoms. Farrell said that the first baseman is feeling better on Thursday. "Still dealing with some dehydration," Farrell said. "Still dealing with some overall achiness and some nausea so we're hopeful that later this afternoon, there may be the availability in today's game." -- Thursday's lineup featured a mild surprise behind the plate. The decision to go with A.J. Pierzynski over David Ross stemmed from the fact that the former has had significant success against Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle. In his career, Pierzynski has hit .409/.417/.409 in 24 plate appearances with no extra base hits and three RBI. -- Stephen Drew will clear optional waivers on Friday, at which point he can be sent out for a minor league assignment. Given that the Sox won't need a starter until at least Sunday, the Sox are likely to make a roster move to add depth to their roster once Drew moves. Farrell said that the likely move, before the team turns to a starter for Sunday, will be a reliever. Drake Britton and Alex Wilson are the two full-time relievers on the PawSox roster who are also on the 40-man; while the Rays' struggles against lefties would suggest Dritton could be well-suited for the role, he's been in a considerable funk, having gone five straight outings without a strikeout and having allowed five runs in his last two games while walking 17 and striking out just 13 on the year. Wilson, by contrast, has a 1.42 ERA in 18 games with 21 strikeouts (and 12 walks) in 19 innings. He's been scored upon in just two games this year.

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