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The Mentalist

Posted by Amalie Benjamin  February 12, 2009 11:04 AM

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02122009buchholz600.jpg
Clay Buchholz throws today in Fort Myers. (Yoon S. Byun / Globe Staff)

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was this time last year when Clay Buchholz was coming into camp, coming off a season in which he'd thrown a no-hitter, and working on trying to make the big league club out of spring training. He did, and it all went downhill from there.

It's not hard to remember how horrific his season became, capped by that game in Baltimore in August, after which he was sent down to Double A to finish out the season. He was utterly defeated at that point.

"I don't think there's any words for it," Buchholz said, of his struggles last season. "Never had to really go through any adversity throughout my whole career, my whole life actually in baseball. It was different lats year, just the first game I really struggled it sort of snowballed on me. I thought about that one game the next game, and then the next game, the next game. It was a struggle, but you've got to go through it. You live and learn and I learned a lot from it last year."

Much of that came in meetings with Sox sports psychology coach Bob Tewksbury this offseason, in which Buchholz worked on letting go of his bad pitches and bad innings. He couldn't dwell on them, or he knew they would become bigger than they needed to be.

"He just helped me on some little things to go out there and think about," Buchholz said. "If you have negative thoughts going through your head when you're on the mound during a game, then you've got to sort of step off the mound, take a breath and try to pitch instead of worrying about the next batter, the inning before, and that was my deal last year."

Buchholz added that, though he initially did not want to go to the Arizona Fall League, it was helpful for him. He worked with Portland pitching coach Mike Cather on correcting a flaw in his delivery that he thinks will pay dividends this season.

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