Clay Buchholz says he is completely healthy, but still taking things slow

Rob Bradford
February 10, 2014 - 7:06 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Following a light workout with Jon Lester and John Lackey at JetBlue Park Monday, Clay Buchholz said he is fully healthy but is taking a different approach toward spring training this time around. Buchholz didn't throw any bullpen sessions prior to arriving in camp, having heeded the advice of the medical staff after suffering through a shoulder issue all the way through the World Series run. "Usually coming into camp I'€™ve thrown four or five bullpens and ready to go. This year I didn'€™t throw any bullpens," he said. "So this year I'€™m using spring training for the purpose of spring training, that'€™s to get ready for the season this year." Buchholz explained that the advice given to him by Dr. James Andrews during the season -- which suggested his ailment was only going to heal with rest -- seems to be right on the money. The pitcher didn't pick up a ball until December, and when he did the pain in the shoulder had dissipated. "That'€™s what Dr. Andrews told me the day I went and saw him," Buchholz explained. "He said it'€™s all rest. It'€™s like picking a scab, if you just try and keep throwing and fighting through it. So I took a full month off of not picking up a ball and not doing anything. Right when I started working out again I didn'€™t feel anything." The starter added, "This offseason has been a little bit different than in the past, not having the mound time off. In recent years I'€™ve gotten to spring training being basically in midseason form as far as being off the mound. Speaking with the training staff I needed to take a step back from that and make sure everything was fully recovered, not to push anything too far, too soon. It'€™s a different route than I'€™ve gone the last four or five years coming into camp, just playing catch and long-toss. But I feel a lot better by doing that rather than just jumping into the throwing program when I normally would do it." Buchholz admitted to having doubts if he would be able to make the Game 4 start (in which he lasted four innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits) even the day before he was scheduled to pitch. But after "five or six" warm-up tosses in the bullpen, his mind was put at ease. And when it was all said and done, Buchholz actually felt like the experience was something he could build on. "I was 85-90 in that start. The way the ball was moving, that just tells me I don'€™t always have to throw 94 to have success, and that'€™s against one of the better teams in baseball," he said. As for the perceived excess of starting pitching heading into camp, with Lester, Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster and Buchholz all in the mix, the righty offered the expected response -- things will take care of themselves. "Having too much pitching is never a problem," he said. "I think that'€™s the point we're at right now. We have six guys for five spots. We'€™ll see what happens. I would definitely love for everybody to stay with us and if their role brings them to the bullpen or somewhere else then that'€™s just the case at hand. Other than that, I think our staff is going to be really well prepared, obviously wanting to repeat."