After consulting with pitching coach John Farrell and general manager Theo Epstein, Terry Francona announced this afternoon that Clay Buchholz, the rookie sensation who pitched a no-hitter Sept. 1, will not pitch for the remainder of the season and will not be on the postseason roster.
This was not the result of Buchholz reaching his predetermined innings limit, Francona said, but rather a result of the strength and mobility testing the Red Sox do on all their pitchers. Buchholz’s tests showed he was fatiguing, a problem common with young pitchers, and the Sox brass determined that to pitch him in October would be a risk they were unwilling to take.
Here is most of Terry Francona’s press conference earlier. Theo just got finished speaking to reporters in the dugout, and we’ll bring you his quotes soon. If Clay talks today, we will give you his thoughts as well.
The one thing I will tell you is, just to clear up some of the stuff on Buchholz because I know you guys have been asking and I’ve been pretty vague. That’s actually part of what [Epstein, Farrell, and I] were talking about. He’s not going to pitch out of the bullpen or to start for the rest of the year. We were very careful and very structured in how we pitched him, because of everything we’ve talked about all the last six weeks. We test all our pitchers and with Clay we’re at a point where I don’t think any of us are very comfortable sending him out there knowing what the future holds for him, even though the present is very exciting. There’s some fatigue and with fatigue comes some lacking in strength that, again, we’ve been very aware of. It happens with all young pitchers. But we’re determined not to learn it the hard way. It’s somewhat disappointing because of how exciting this kid is, but it’s a decision that we made as an organization, united, and we wanted to talk to Clay about it.
How did he take the news?
I think as with all young players and pitchers, they think they can go out and do it, and he quite possibly could. But we have, again, I think it would be very disrespectful to try to get some innings out of somebody that may not be in his best interest.
Had he come up as a reliever would it be different?
I think we’re talking about apples and oranges. I’m not talking today about innings limits. Just about purely how we judge pitchers and players. There are perameters that we look at every day and are comfortable with. And that part I wouldn’t get into, just because it’s our stuff and we believe in it a lot. If he was still under these perameters, as far as in balance and stuff like that, it wouldn’t matter if he was a starter or a reliever.
So no injuries or soreness or anything like that?
No, no, no.
Just all strength testing?
Strength, mobility, things like that. For instance, there’s actually several, which all kind of come together to show balanced or imbalanced strength or weakness, things like that.
Would you have included him on the playoff roster if you could have?
I think that it was something we were excited to talk about. And I think all along we were trying to manage the things that we’re talking about so it could be a realistic possibility, if nothing more. We threw him in the bullpen in Baltimore, trying to slow him down a bit. Then we missed one outing, threw him a couple sides, trying to slow the process down. But again, ultimately, innings-wise he was OK. We could have managed it. But we have to look ourselves in the face and we have to do the right thing. It’s really not that hard. I’m not sure it’s fun, but it’s not that hard.
How new is this kind of thinking, looking at the future of a player in this way?
I think as you learn more, some of it’s from mistakes, some of it’s from the industry’s mistakes, some of it’s from better knowledge medically. You are kind of silly not to try to learn from it.
Learning from Papelbon situation last year?
I hope so. This has nothing to do with Pap. Pap simply got overused. And when you get overused there’s a chance you can fatigue, and there’s a chance you get hurt. That’s my mistake.
Is there a chance the number of pitches he threw in the no-hitter might have contributed to this?
No, we’ve been monitoring him. We don’t monitor guys every once in a blue moon. We monitor them all the time. We know where they are, where they’re going, and where they’re needing to get.
So the tests have been consistent before and after the no-hitter?
I’m not going to get into everything, but there’s not been a lot of inconsistency. It happens a lot with young pitchers when they’re not used to being on our program. They are coming out of high school. They are coming out of college. They are used to being on other programs. You’re trying to get them to adhere, and it takes a little bit of time. So the consistency in his program going forward is something we have talked to him at length [about].
So doing this speaks highly of his future…
We would do it for everybody. Believe me, we would not just do this…we don’t treat players like that. We would never do that.
So this would explain why we haven’t seen him in the last couple of weeks?
We had actually had him not throwing for the last five or six days because we wanted to be able to read the results right. We are trying not to camouflage him for us. It’s easy to want to pitch a guy. It’s good. He’s exciting, so we’re trying to do the right thing.