By Associated Press - Saturday, February 18, 2017

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - After spending the last 11½ years in the Boston Red Sox organization, right-handed pitcher Clay Buchholz is adjusting to a new big league environment for the first time in his career following his trade to the Philadelphia Phillies two months ago.

Buchholz, 32, was sent to Philadelphia in a December trade for infield prospect Josh Tobias. The deal was essentially a salary dump by the Red Sox, who picked up Buchholz’s $13.5 million club option for the 2017 season six weeks before the trade.

The deal occurred two weeks after Boston made the blockbuster trade that brought former Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox rotation.

“I definitely thought that was the trade I was going to be a part of,” Buchholz said before joining his Phillies teammates for a morning workout at spring training. “But that’s part of the game. I knew the option that they picked up, it was something they could try to work with other teams with because it was a relatively cheap option. It landed me here and I’m happy to be here.”

A former crown jewel of Boston’s prospect-filled farm system, Buchholz had an up-and-down existence with the Red Sox.

He threw a no-hitter in his second career start during the 2007 season, one of two years that Boston won a World Series title during his 10 seasons with the team. Three years later, Buchholz went 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA in 28 starts, finishing sixth in the AL Cy Young Award voting and being named an All-Star. He made his second trip to the All-Star Game in 2013, when he went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 16 starts.

But in the last three seasons, Buchholz is a combined 23-28 with a 4.60 ERA in 83 games. Buchholz went 8-10 with a 4.78 ERA last season, when he was demoted from the starting rotation after carrying a 6.35 ERA into the final weekend of May.

“I still consider myself a starter, as I did last year when a numbers game caught up with me and performance wasn’t good the first half,” Buchholz said. “But, you know, I feel like I built a bridge to another role if I had to do that late run my career.”

As a reliever, Buchholz may have found something that could help him revive his career as a starter. Upon returning to Boston’s rotation last summer, Buchholz allowed two runs or fewer in six of his eight starts.

“I eliminated a lot of movement that I feel like I didn’t need and could concentrate on throwing the pitch and throwing it where I wanted to throw it, rather than mechanical flaws or trying to do something different through a windup,” he said. “I’m coming into camp right now thinking I’m staying in the stretch because it worked out good for me.”

Buchholz, who entered the offseason as the longest-tenured Red Sox starter, is joining a Phillies rotation that includes fellow veteran Jeremy Hellickson and three young right-handers in Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez.

“I think everybody nowadays knows one player doesn’t stay with one team his whole career,” Buchholz said. “There are a select few guys that have done that over their career; I was playing on the same team with one of them, Dustin Pedroia. He’s been a staple there forever.

“But I think a change of scenery for me, just to get somewhere else and meet some new guys and play for a different uniform, a different organization. For the Red Sox, they gave me a lot, gave me the opportunity. But a new chapter, and I look forward to going on the field with these guys here.”

Perhaps moving to the National League, exchanging his navy cap for a red one and getting outfitted in red pinstripes for the first time will be the right recipe for Buchholz to become a consistent big league starter again.

“I think it energizes anybody,” Buchholz said of being traded. “There are expectations that are brought back to you, that sense of complacency, being in one spot for an extended period of time, that’s gone. And yeah, you want to perform for the new faces and show that you’re still good at your craft and good at what you do.”

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