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Clay Buchholz deserves benefit of the doubt

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  July 23, 2013 09:18 PM

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Playing nine innings while commending Jon Lester for borrowing Bruce Hurst's curveball ...

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1. Clay Buchholz is as fragile as he is talented, and that combination leads to frustration when he's inevitably on the shelf for a stretch each summer. But the suggestion that he's soft or doesn't want to compete is chest-puffing speculation at its worst. I'm not about to tell a pitcher that his arm - his livelihood - feels well enough to go out and throw 100 pitches just because he's been told there's no structural damage. Players who play through injuries are often looked at as noble - but often, they're not close to what they should be and it ends up being counter-productive. (See: John Lackey, who probably should have had Tommy John surgery the day he signed his contract.) It stinks that Buchholz got hurt, because he was having a Cy Young-worthy season. But it's not about being soft. It's about being smart.

2. Yeah, so as I was saying Tuesday, there's a lot of risk with signing Dustin Pedroia to a long-term deal. Five years at $20 million per for an undersized, hard-nosed player at a physically challenging position seems like a bit ... WAIT, WHUT? It's a seven-year, $100-million extension that equates to an average How can you not love it? GET ME REWRITE! (Seriously: Great deal for all, even as I continue to be skeptical of what he'll be able to contribute in his mid-30s. The price is tolerable even in a worst-case scenario, and it's worth it just to assure he'll never wear another team's uniform.)

3. Tuesday seemed like an odd day for Jacoby Ellsbury to take off even with his career .513 OPS (18 plate appearances) against Rays starter Fausto Carmona Roberto Hernandez. One game over the course of the season really doesn't mean any more than the other 161, but that game – against a red-hot division rival with first place at stake – probably did have a little bit of extra significance, at least within the moment. It felt like one they had to have, and it felt good when they got it. Given that it all worked out in the end, I'll resist griping about Ellsbury, who has been absolutely brilliant over the last seven weeks (.864 OPS in June, ,954 so far in July.)

myerswillfinn724.JPG4. The popular comp for Rays rookie Wil Myers before the season began was former Braves star and first-ballot Hall of Nearly Great inductee Dale Murphy. Seems about right to me. Myers, just 22, has put up a .316/.341/.496 slash-line in 119 plate appearances since his recall in mid-June. He seems to be intent on tormenting the Red Sox the same way B.J. Upton used to. So I ask while presuming the answer in advance: Do you wish the Red Sox had traded Jon Lester (and maybe a legitimate prospect or two) to the Royals for Myers before the Rays got it done with their James Shields offer?

5. Dan Duquette, who is proving in Baltimore that he should have had a second chance in a prominent position in organized baseball long before he got one, presumably boosted the Orioles bullpen with the acquisition of Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers Wednesday night. It will interesting to see how the former K-Rod fares in the AL East – he has a 1.09 ERA this season, but his average fastball velocity is down to 91 miles per hour, more than three ticks lower than it was in 2007. Given that his flyball rate is 50 percent, maybe he should be known as FB-Rod from now on. Still a worthwhile pickup, though, and it ruins the hopes of a Rodriguez-John Lackey reunion – the two were essential as rookies during the Angels' 2002 championship run.

6. Jose Iglesias has hit a bit of a rut lately, putting up a .247/.287/.259 line over the last month (87 plate appearances) and a .147/.147/.147 over 35 plate appearances the past two weeks. I'm not drawing any big-picture conclusions from this small sample, just as I tried to avoid doing when he was on fire in late May and June. But it is something of a pivotal time for him. If he can stem the slump and prove that indeed he can be a fairly consistent .250-.260 hitter with an OPS in the upper-.600 range, those already convinced he's the solution at shortstop will be absolutely correct. He's improved, no doubt. We're about to find out how much.

7. Koji Uehara has appeared in 47 games, second only to the career-high 65 he made in 2011 with Baltimore. And currently at 45.1 innings, he's 19.2 shy of his high set two years ago. I'm trying to avoid worrying about the 38-year-old's workload, but I'm not having much luck.

8. Here's hoping David Ross is healthy and can return relatively soon. Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been one of the unsung standouts this year, but the Sox need to be careful about wearing him down. And when Ryan Lavarnway is the backup catcher, I'm not sure you have a backup catcher at all.

9. As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

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I can't be the only one who is skeptical about A-Rod's sudden "quad injury.'' Either he's trying to stay one step ahead of Bud Selig's PED Posse, or he's simply fallen back into that weird habit of copying everything Derek Jeter does.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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