Last March, Clay Buchholz had to search for that extra gear just to reach 91 mph on his fastball. Now?

Let’s just say it’s a new year.

Last March, Clay Buchholz had to search for that extra gear just to reach 91 mph on his fastball. Now?

Let’s just say it’s a new year.

Making his final start of the spring on Wednesday against the Twins, Buchholz hurled four shutout innings, allowing six hits and a walk. He struck out four, lowered his Grapefruit League ERA to 2.84, and marveled at how much better he feels now, with a fastball routinely touching 94 mph, than at this time last year.

“It’€™s night and day for me,” Buchholz told reporters in Fort Myers. “I was talking to John (Farrell) after I came out. Right now, whenever I feel like I need to reach back and get a little extra, it’€™s not in a max-effort level where I’€™m not staying within the delivery. That just goes to the work that I put in with the delivery this offseason and early this camp, all the bullpens and stuff. I can reach out if I’€™m under control. Whenever I feel like I spin off or something, I feel it and I feel like I make the adjustment better than I did a year ago.”

With that, Buchholz declared himself good to go on Monday in Philadelphia, where he’ll make the first Opening Day start of his career opposite Cole Hamels.

“I feel confident that I give the team a good chance to win when I go out there,” Buchholz said. “That’€™s all anybody can ask for in a starting pitcher. If you don’€™t have your stuff that day, find a way to get through six or seven innings and hand it over to the bullpen.”

It helps knowing the fastball will be there when needed. Buchholz estimates he didn’t reach 93-94 mph last year, “until probably after the All-Star break.”

But on Wednesday against the Twins, he believed the hardest hit ball he allowed came on a double-play grounder vs. Torii Hunter.

“I felt like the movement on each pitch was more defined today,” Buchholz said. “All the mis-hits they hit were basically sinker/cutters. Changeup. There was not a whole lot of hard contact. That’€™s sort of what you want when you’€™re out there, is contact. I think the hardest contact was Torii’€™s double play ball. Overall, I felt really good with everything.”

For more on Buchholz and his transformation from wide-eyed minor leaguer to Opening Day starter, check out Rob Bradford’s profile.

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

It hasn't always been easy for the supremely talented Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)FORT MYERS, Fla.



Minor league industry bible Baseball America has released its annual farm system rankings, and you don’t have to just take our word for it anymore — the Red Sox are loaded.

Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

Minor league industry bible Baseball America has released its annual farm system rankings, and you don’t have to just take our word for it anymore — the Red Sox are loaded.

BA ranked the Red Sox‘ system second in the game for the second straight year, this time behind only the Cubs. The magazine named Yoan Moncada the team’s top prospect, and praised the Red Sox for their aggressive spending in Cuba, which has yielded not only Moncada, but Rusney Castillo.

The Red Sox are deep in quality left-handed starters, with Brian Johnson the closest to the majors, Henry Owens the best prospect at the moment, and Eduardo Rodriguez with potentially the highest ceiling.

The Red Sox placed seven prospects on BA’s top 100 list, and that doesn’t include Moncada, who signed after the list was compiled. The team’s best prospect otherwise is catcher Blake Swihart (17th overall in baseball).

Rounding out the top five of the organizational rankings were the Dodgers, Twins, and Mets.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After his latest spring training outing — this one coming Tuesday on the Fenway South backfields against Minnesota Triple-A hitters — Wade Miley offered some clarity for what has been a somewhat secretive pitching rotation.

Wade Miley

Wade Miley

FORT MYERS, Fla. — After his latest spring training outing — this one coming Tuesday on the Fenway South backfields against Minnesota Triple-A hitters — Wade Miley offered some clarity for what has been a somewhat secretive pitching rotation.

The left-hander said he will make his first start of the season against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, presumably Friday, April 10. That would mean that Justin Masterson is most likely slotted in the No. 3 spot, lining him up to face the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. (Red Sox manager John Farrell was once again non-committal earlier Tuesday when asked if he was ready to announce the team’s No. 3 starter.)

The 29-year-old has pitched in Yankee Stadium just one time, getting a no-decision while three runs on four hits over 6 2/3 innings during an April 17, 2013 Diamondbacks loss.

“That’s going to be pretty special,” said Miley of making his Red Sox debut, going up against the Yankees.

Miley has been solid for most of spring training, this time turning in a 6 2/3-inning performance in which he threw 98 pitches while allowing one run on four hits.

Other than the lefty’s hiccup during a March 15 relief appearance against Philadelphia in which he allowed four runs on six hits while walking three in three innings.

Since the Philly outing, Miley has given up three runs over 11 innings in two Grapefruit League starts.

Ryan Hanigan caught Miley’s outing Tuesday, going 0-for-4 with a walk.

Miley also reported that the 14-foot boat he bought in order to fish with his teammates in back of Fenway South will be handed over to the grounds crew until their return next February.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Humberto Quintero

Humberto Quintero

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For a brief time, when news first came down that Christian Vazquez’s right elbow was going to sideline the catcher for quite a while, Humberto Quintero thought there was a window to make the Red Sox‘ Opening Day roster.

It was unlikely that the Red Sox would promote Blake Swihart so soon, leaving Quintero has the next logical option to play alongside newly-tabbed starter Ryan Hanigan.

But then came Monday, when the Sox traded for Quintero’s former teammate from the Venezuelan Winter League, Sandy Leon, and then the landscape suddenly changed.

“I’€™ve been playing in the big leagues for a few years so I know, it’€™s baseball,” said the 35-year-old Quintero. “I’€™ll just try and do my best every time they put me in the lineup. I’€™ve hit the ball well, blocked the ball, and I feel great.”

Now both the Red Sox and Quintero have to make a decision.

The catcher has an opt-out clause in his contract that would allow him to get out of the minor-league deal he has been in camp under which officially kicks in today. If he did accept a minor-league assignment and not opt-out, the Red Sox would be obligated to pay Quintero $100,000.

But the veteran of 471 major league games has decided to wait a while before making any decisions, with Leon scheduled to get his first start with the Red Sox Tuesday in Port Charlotte against the Rays.

Despite a solid camp, Quintero would seem to be once again pushed back on the depth chart considering the 26-year-old is out of options and resides on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster.

“You never know,” Quintero said. “I’€™m going to wait for a couple of more days to see what they’€™re going to do.”

Quintero, who last played regularly in the major leagues in 2011 with Houston, also has another opt-out on June 1 if he chooses not to enact the clause this time around.

“It’€™s a decision that’€™s part of baseball,” he said. “The only thing I can do is every time they tell me to play is try and do my best.”

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Shane Victorino is ready to assume his role as starting right fielder for the Red Sox. (Elsa/Getty Images)FORT MYERS, Fla.



FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz has made it perfectly clear why he chose to publish 2,300-plus-word, March 26 article on the Players’ Tribune web site defending himself against allegations of using performance enhancing drugs.