CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - Clay Buchholz threw a no-hitter in his second career start, went to two All-Star games and pitched for a World Series champion.
Now, he’s starting over with the rebuilding Philadelphia Phillies.
Buchholz allowed two homers and four runs in three innings against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, but the 32-year-old right-hander has been around long enough not to worry about spring stats.
“I have to work a little bit on location and command of my fastball and results will come,” Buchholz said. “The last inning, I threw some really good changeups and usually that’s a pitch that comes later in the spring so I’m good with that.
“Everything stems off command of the fastball off both sides of the plate and when that comes at some point in camp, that’s when you bring into the season in April,” he said.
Buchholz spent 10 seasons with Boston before the Phillies acquired him for a low-level prospect. He was once a staple in the Red Sox rotation, but became expendable after the Red Sox acquired five-time All-Star Chris Sale.
Buchholz is the oldest starter on a promising young staff. Jeremy Hellickson is 29 and Jerad Eickhoff (26), Vince Velasquez (24) and Aaron Nola (23) round out the rotation. The Phillies have a slew of solid pitching prospects waiting in the minors.
“It’s something different than what I’ve seen the last nine, 10 years,” Buchholz said. “It’s always been a big veteran presence and to come to a place where the average is 24, 25 years old, it’s a little different. It just shows you how good these guys are coming up to the majors and having success. They work really hard at what they do and it’s fun to be around a new group of guys.
Buchholz has served as a mentor to the younger guys. He knows what it’s like to pitch in a big city with a tough media contingent and he’s had his share of ups and downs. Since he went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 16 starts in 2013, Buchholz is a combined 23-28 with a 4.60 ERA in 83 games over the past three seasons.
“Coming from an organization where scrutiny comes with the territory and criticism comes with the territory, you have to learn how to have a short memory with the successful outings and a short memory with the ones you are not quite so successful,” Buchholz said. “Bad outings, you have to let it go through one ear and out the other and learn from the bad things you’ve done and try to get better.
“The things you are doing good, you still work on those to get them refined. That’s a lesson that took me a few years coming up so hopefully I can rub off on a couple of these guys who are really good at what they do and when you have success when you’re young, you can only go up from there.”
Buchholz made his debut in 2007, pitching in four games, including his no-hitter. The Red Sox won the World Series that season. Three years later, Buchholz went 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA in 28 starts, finishing sixth in the AL Cy Young Award voting. Buchholz was an All-Star again in 2013 and started Game 4 of the World Series against St. Louis. The Red Sox rallied from being down 2-1 in the series to win in six games.
Last season was Buchholz’s toughest. He was 8-10 with a 4.78 ERA and was demoted from the starting rotation after carrying a 6.35 ERA into the final weekend of May. Buchholz changed his mechanics, altered his arm angle on his delivery and pitched well enough down the stretch to impress the Phillies.
Buchholz will earn $13.5 million in the final season of a contract so he could be a valuable trade chip if he pitches well and the Phillies are not a contender.
For now, Buchholz is focused on helping Philadelphia win again.
“I think this team is headed in the right direction,” he said.
NOTES: Rhys Hoskins and Michael Saunders hit homers and Freddy Galvis hit a two-run double for the Phillies in an 8-5 win over Detroit. … Justin Upton and Brett Pill connected off Buchholz for the Tigers.
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