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Change from Buchholz

He won’t worry so much about runners

Jeremy Hermida has reason to smile: He’s already got four hits in 10 at-bats as a Red Sox. Jeremy Hermida has reason to smile: He’s already got four hits in 10 at-bats as a Red Sox. (File/J. Meric/Getty Images)
By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / April 14, 2010

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MINNEAPOLIS — After getting rattled so many times with runners on base, throwing to first so many times, Clay Buchholz came to a conclusion. He can’t worry when runners get on. That only makes everything harder.

So even when he had runners aplenty in his first start of the season Sunday in Kansas City, he did not let them get inside his head.

“I think I only picked two times that wasn’t from the dugout,’’ he said. “I got a hold with [Scott] Podsednik on first and held the ball for probably six, seven seconds, and stepped off.

“I just sort of made that thought process in my head: If it doesn’t come from the dugout, don’t worry about the runner. If they run, let [Victor Martinez] throw them out. Just be quick enough to home plate to give him the chance to throw them out. That’s the route I’m going with.’’

Podsednik did, in fact, steal two bases, but the more worrisome part of the outing was that Buchholz allowed the leadoff runner on base in each of his five innings, and that he struck out just one batter.

With Buchholz, there’s always the concern that the mental side of the game will overwhelm him. He has progressed over the years, and is not nearly as susceptible to letting one bad pitch snowball, but there’s still a slight whiff of precariousness around him.

“Every time that anybody struggles in the big leagues, it’s a mental thing,’’ Buchholz said. “You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t good enough physically to do all the stuff.

“I would say probably 90 percent of the time when I go out there, I feel good enough that if I throw pitches where I want to throw them, we’re going to get outs and they’re going to hit the ball at somebody. It’s definitely all mental.

“I think I’ve made some good strides. There’s been times that I’ve thought that I’ve been over it, and then it’s sort of went back to things like, say, three starts ago in a season and that starts making the wheels turn a little bit. But over the last two years, I think I’ve made some pretty big strides in it.’’

He said he hasn’t thought at all about the extra starter in the minor leagues — Daisuke Matsuzaka — who is working to get back to the majors. That hasn’t increased the pressure.

“If that means I’m the odd man out, then whatever,’’ Buchholz said. “They’ll find somewhere to put me. I’m going to just keep going out there every fifth day, or if it’s in the bullpen, every other day. I’m going to throw and try to go out there and do my best.’’

Making it count
With the rib injury to Jacoby Ellsbury and the neck injury to J.D. Drew, Jeremy Hermida already has started three games and had 10 at-bats. That’s a lot for a Red Sox reserve. But it’s not a lot for someone coming from the National League, where there are more double switches and pinch hitters, more opportunities to get in games.

Hermida has done well with the time he has been given. He has four hits in those 10 at-bats, including two doubles and one home run.

“He’s going to be one of our guys that hits a lot because he likes it,’’ said manager Terry Francona. “He got in that first night in Kansas City, got that base hit, I think that really helps you. I mean, you can’t hang your hat on that, but I think it kind of relaxes you a little bit. Those at-bats for guys are really important.’’

Hermida is still working out his approach. He said he was too ready the first few days, got loose too many times, before he started to understand the process. There’s still more work to do.

“Just try and carry over from spring training, ’cause I was feeling good most of spring training,’’ Hermida said. “I understand what the role is going to be, where you’re in there certain days. Just try to take advantage of it.

“It’s still early. Not getting too excited, but it’s definitely nice to get off to a good start. Just making sure that every day I’m coming here and getting prepared and doing my stuff behind closed doors, staying sharp as much as I can.’’

Radar love
Though it appeared Manny Delcarmen might have corrected some of his velocity issues in his last outing, Sunday at Kansas City, it might have had something to do with the Kauffman Stadium radar gun. Francona estimated that the gun, which showed Delcarmen as high as 95 miles per hour, was perhaps 2 miles per hour fast. “But I also thought, especially the first inning, I thought he had some good finish on his fastball,’’ Francona said. Delcarmen threw two scoreless innings in the game . . . The BoSox club is offering its 2010 essay contest, in which boys and girls can win a chance to participate in summer baseball and softball camps. Boys ages 9 to 16 can win five days at the Jason Varitek and Dustin Pedroia Summer Baseball Camp presented by the RBI Academy from Aug. 1-6. Girls in grades 5 through 12 can win four days at the Skills and Drills Softball Camp at Wheaton College from July 5-8. Applicants should send a short essay (no more than 100 words) explaining why they would like to attend to camp@bosoxclub.com or BoSox Club Essay Camp Contest, 4 Yawkey Way, Boston 02215. The deadline is June 7.

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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