|Pitching coach John Farrell will try to get Clay Buchholz (above) to be a bit more upright upon his delivery to the plate. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)|
FORT MYERS, Fla. - With two disappointing starts this spring, Clay Buchholz will spend his bullpen session today working with pitching coach John Farrell to try to correct a mechanical problem he's worked on since he signed with the Red Sox - the arching of his back. Although Buchholz was unsure whether that would correct the main problem he's had this spring - elevating his pitches, especially his changeup - he seemed open-minded.
"As your foot gets too far away from your body, there's a counterbalancing effect that has to take place," Farrell said yesterday. "As the foot gets further away from the body, that leg lift has the tendency to push the shoulders back. So the thought being that you get his foot underneath his lead knee, that will allow him to stay a little more upright and direct as he drives to home plate."
Buchholz allowed four runs in two innings against the Twins last Sunday and three runs against the Twins Friday. In both cases, most of the trouble came in the first inning.
"I really don't think it's nerves," said Buchholz, who is in the running for the fifth spot in the rotation. "I just think it's a matter of me going out there and not having enough conviction and throwing the pitches the way that I want to throw them. It's like I have to get mad before I can go out there and do something right."
Or, perhaps, work on that arching.
"I think what it'll allow is his lead shoulder, or his left shoulder, to be a little more on line," Farrell said, while acknowledging that Buchholz may be experiencing some nerves. "Right now he has a tendency to put himself in a position that, when he gets his power, he'll fly open a little bit. That will ultimately cause him to lose downhill plane."
Balancing the high expectations Buchholz has with his desire to impress the team certainly might be a factor. But, as Farrell said, "Ultimately trusting his fastball and the location it's going to is where we're trying to get to."
Buchholz knows there's the possibility he could start the season in Triple A. So he's happy to work with Farrell on any adjustments, knowing they might get him one step closer to being in the big leagues to stay.
"Regardless of how I do here, I think this is the Red Sox' decision, what they want to do," Buchholz said. "I could go out and give up nothing for the rest of the time I'm here and that still might not be enough.
"I know that, and that's why I'm not going to go out there and tell myself that if I don't start in the big leagues that I've failed or anything. Because it's not even about that. It's about knowing how I feel and what I'm doing.
"If I go out there and do that, then I feel like I'm doing my job and I have to be happy about it and leave the decision in their hands."
The front office got its first good look at Lars Anderson this spring when the big first baseman made his way over to City of Palms Park. Anderson, who is slated to begin the season with Single A Lancaster, is one of the few prospects in the system with legitimate power. The 2006 18th-round draft choice (he fell because of signability issues) is still just 20 years old, but with a relatively advanced approach at the plate. "I think we're pretty high on where his ceiling is," director of player development Mike Hazen said. "Offensively, a couple things we've talked about - we love his swing, certainly not making any adjustments there - but, in his overall approach, especially with two strikes, just looking for him to be a little more aggressive at times with two strikes. He knows the strike zone so well that I think sometimes it's a challenge for him, striking out looking, because he feels like does know the strike zone so well. So we've asked him, 'Hey, with two strikes you've got to be a little more competitive. You get to the big league level and you're not going to get that pitch 2 inches on the outer half, the veteran pitcher's going to get that pitch. Be ready for that.' " Anderson got a line single off David Pauley in yesterday's camp game, then came in to hit for David Ortiz against the Marlins. He walked twice in two plate appearances.
Playing it safe
It's been a rough week for Coco Crisp, with his groin injury and root canal, but the center fielder doesn't seem too frustrated. Crisp hasn't played since Sunday, and will be out again tomorrow. "That's just the way it worked out," Crisp said. "I have this injury, and I'm not going to go out there and play, tear a groin muscle or something doing that. Got to wait it out." Crisp said he had felt good so far in '08. "Hitting-wise and baseball-wise, it's like night and day from last year and this year, just because I got a good offseason workout," he said. "The only thing is I want to be out there playing, but unfortunately I can't right now. So just wait 'til that heals up and get out there playing." Crisp will need a follow-up on the root canal Thursday. His competition, Jacoby Ellsbury, hit a two-run homer in the ninth against the Marlins . . . The Sox made their first cuts. Pitchers Edgar Martinez and Pauley were optioned to Pawtucket. Pitcher Kyle Jackson and infielder Argenis Diaz were optioned to Double A Portland. Also, nonroster pitchers Michael Bowden, Hunter Jones, and Justin Masterson, and infielders Jeff Bailey, Tony Granadillo, and Gil Velazquez were reassigned to minor league camp.
Mike Lowell and Alex Cora stayed on Florida's east coast Friday night after traveling to Fort Lauderdale with the team. They'll rejoin the Sox today in Vero Beach . . . Bowden and Pauley each threw three innings in the four-inning camp game before the main attraction at City of Palms Park . . . Shortstop Julio Lugo missed his sixth straight game with lower back tightness . . . Today's game time against the Dodgers has been changed to 1:15 p.m., because of pregame ceremonies . . . While the Red Sox are playing their 11th game of the spring across the state, the first full minor league workout will be going on at the Fort Myers complex today.