As I enter my eighth season as voice of the PawSox, I realize I have been fortunate to witness the emergence of many great players since 2004. Pedroia, Youkilis, Lester etc. You sense when a kid may become a success. Sometimes you’re right. Clay Buchholz was one such guy for me. His “stuff” was undeniable in the minor leagues. The question was whether he’d be able to harness his immense gifts and succeed at the Major League level. Well, we now know the answer to that. In 2010, Clay stepped out of the shadows and went 17-7 with a sparkling 2.33 ERA, second best in the American League. Buch also made his first All Star team, as well, and finished 6th in the American League Cy Young voting. Not bad for a young man who went into Spring Training not knowing whether he’d be in Boston or back at McCoy. Clay told me he is ready for whatever Fort Myers offers this Spring. “I feel good. The approach is locking down a spot in this rotation. The stress isn’t going to be there like it has in the past couple of years. Although, I think it did actually make it better the last couple of Spring Trainings, knowing the spot wasn’t mine. I had to earn it. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, and there’s no need to stop now.”
Clay Buchholz has journeyed up and down route 95, between McCoy and Fenway many times. That is one of the reasons he relishes the success he enjoyed in 2010. “It was awesome. It was a fun season. I overcame a lot of struggles I went through and learned a lot too. It definitely helped me to get the confidence that I needed to have to go out there and pitch every five days in this town, and against the competition we play every day.”
The young Texan is somewhat cautious when the term “Ace of the Staff” is thrown at him. “When you’re a little kid, growing up, in your wildest dreams, if you were ever mentioned in the same sentence as Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey…it would make my world. That’s sort of where I’m at right now.”
While Clay enjoyed personal success in 2010, he is hungry for team success in 2011. Buch is excited about the group in Fort Myers, and what they could accomplish. “This team is one of the best teams anyone’s ever seen on paper, right now. Pedey is back healthy, Youk’s healthy and the key acquisitions they made during the offseason, it’s definitely going to be something to watch.”
Another event that the Sox had to endure in 2010 was the tragic accident that claimed the leg of first base coach Ron Johnnsons’ daughter, Bridget. Buch and RJ go way back to their time together in the minor leagues. Clay was looking foward to Johnsons’ return. “RJ’s the best. He never changed. When he got to the Big Leagues, he never changed, and that’s what everybody loves about him. He is a guy who will always make you laugh. He helps us, because he helps keep everyone relaxed.”
A burgeoning career, a beautiful wife and a new daughter. Life is good these days for Clay Buchholz. He appreciates it. “I never expected I’d have a baby as good as Colby is. She never cries. Lindsay and I are just keeping our fingers crossed.” Colby got here just in time to watch her daddy pitch for the Red Sox.