Daniel Nava was the latest position player to show up to camp. (WEEI.com photo)

Morning Fort: The University of Texas influence on display at JetBlue

Rob Bradford
February 18, 2015 - 6:51 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A few more newcomers arrived at a cloudy, windy, almost-kind-of-chilly JetBlue Park Wednesday. Ryan Hanigan (fresh off his trip Westminster Dog Show) and Daniel Nava were among the newcomers. Hanigan's presence was especially appreciated considering the need for catchers with a wave of pitchers taking to the bullpen mounds. Among those getting his work in for a fourth time since arriving was Clay Buchholz. For Buchholz, the work is a continuation from sessions he participated in this offseason at the University of Texas with Longhorns pitching coach Skip Johnson. Johnson, who managed against Buchholz' junior college team when he was guiding Navarro College in Texas, took the Red Sox pitcher under his wing starting in December. According to Buchholz, there seems to be a payoff. We'll let the pitcher explain: "Out of the windup, the leg that I kicked with on its way down I would cast my foot out which would make me start to go to the plate a little bit earlier than I needed to," Buchholz said. "When I spun off, with my back almost to the hitter, that's what causes that. He's worked with Kershaw a little bit, too. He said Kershaw was doing the same thing at some point. The two keys are being balanced over the rubber when your leg comes up and before you go forward let your leg go down first. Sort of make an L with your front leg so it's more coming down and then out. "The first time I did it to right now I feel more on line, my finish is a lot better and I'm not spinning off like I was. ... When you're doing good your not thinking about mechanics. When you're not, all you're thinking about are mechanics." He added, "It was night and day. When I'm not doing that, changeups were up and in to righties like they were all year last year for the majority of the year. What that does is make you stay back, and what I was doing on my changeup was going forward and trying to throw it too hard and trying to manipulate the arm angle to get hitters off balance. But from the first time I did that my misses were down instead of up, and pitching at this level you would rather you miss down." Buchholz wasn't the only one working with Johnson in Austin, with Red Sox reliever Brandon Workman also turning to Johnson for instruction. Oh yeah, the wind was blowing out on Field 3 and Hanley Ramirez was hitting absolute bombs. (Also, in case you were wondering, Pablo Sandoval was not in attendance today.)