First things first for Buchholz
Right-hander looking to improve on early struggles
SEATTLE -- When Clay Buchholz goes to the bullpen in the minutes leading into Wednesday afternoon's start against the Mariners, he will do so with a little bit of simulation in mind.
In his last two starts, Buchholz has struggled in the first inning. Against Baltimore on July 11, he allowed two runs in his opening frame. Last time against the Angels, he dug a three-run hole in the first.
"We talked about it a little bit just as far as maybe doing it all the same in warmups and maybe when I get about three-quarters of the way through, maybe sit down for a little bit in the bullpen for about five minutes and then get up and finish the rest of it," said Buchholz. "And then go back and try to manipulate the sitting down and getting back up for the first time and see how that works and maybe we can break that first inning barrier that's there right now."
It isn't as if Buchholz feels completely out of sorts at the start of the game.
"I don't," Buchholz said. "Even last game, I got the first out on two pitches, then I had a 12-pitch at-bat, then it was just one of those things that happened. You've got a guy up there who handles the bat really well, he fouled off a few pitches that are swung on and missed a lot. It went from there. Gave up a couple of bloop hits and the pitches added up and they got a couple of key hits on fastballs that were up in the zone when I was behind in the count."
The one thing Buchholz worked on extensively in his trip back to the Minor Leagues was fastball command. But there are other things he's trying to tweak as well to improve on his somewhat disappointing performance for the Sox this season, which includes a 2-5 record and a 5.88 ERA.
He's been working on releasing the ball from a higher arm angle.
"Repeating the delivery," said Buchholz. "My whole arm angle situation, it's sort of taking care of itself. I think it's more consistent than it was or has been. That's basically what it is. Now it's just trying to repeat the delivery where I can throw to both sides of the plate on a consistent basis whenever I want, or whenever I need a pitch, I can throw a fastball away and get a strike out of it rather than letting it leak back over the middle and giving up a hit."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.