BOSTON -- As the trade deadline approached, Red Sox players knew changes would be made to the team’s roster.
Only nine months after winning the World Series, the Red Sox are in the basement of the AL East and have struggled with consistency in almost every aspect of the game. So general manager Ben Cherington decided it was best to make some dramatic changes, something the players have no choice but to grudgingly accept.
“At the beginning of the season, you’re hoping when this point comes around, the season’s going like you want it to go and you’re adding people instead of taking them away,” Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz said. “It’s just the business side of it and there’s nothing really anybody can do about it, it’s already done.”
While Cherington improved the offensive side with the additions of power-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig, Boston’s veteran pitching staff has been depleted, with starters Jon Lester, John Lackey and Jake Peavy now elsewhere.
Only a few hours after Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline, Buchholz held his annual charity event at Lucky Strike Lanes/Jillian’s behind Fenway Park and briefly discussed how this once championship team is different.
“We’ll be friends till the day we all die,” Buchholz said. “Just not during the nine months during the season we won’t be around each other nearly as much.
“It’s a little different, but it’s the business side of baseball and hopefully they can move on and help another team reach the playoffs and win another World Series.”
Buchholz, Lester and Lackey formed a tight bond over the last few years, with Buchholz and Lester being developed as homegrown talent with the Red Sox organization. Both tossed no-hitters for the Red Sox. When Buchholz was dealing with his struggles, Lester and Lackey were there for support. Buchholz is grateful for what he learned from them.
“Being around a guy like [Lackey] that’s been around a while and has helped two teams win a World Series and was the deciding game-winner in both of those World Series -- something like that doesn’t come around very often,” Buchholz said. “Then Jon Lester, being around him and knowing him the entire time I’ve been here, when you say ‘an ace of a pitching staff’ I think of Jon Lester. He’s going to do big things wherever he goes.”
When Buchholz made his major league debut in 2007, he was surrounded by veterans Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Mike Timlin. Buchholz eventually became a full-time starter in the rotation, along with Lester and Lackey.
Now, Buchholz is the senior member of a young rotation and the only pitcher remaining who started a game and last year's World Series.
“I feel good where I’m at right now,” he said. “I feel healthy and obviously, as far as the numbers go, it hasn’t gone the way I’ve wanted it to this season yet, but if I have 10, 11 or 12 starts [remaining] I’m going to try the best I can and help the team win.”
Buchholz is 5-7 with a 5.87 ERA in 17 starts, with 70 strikeouts and 33 walks in 96 2/3 innings. Until Cherington adds more starting pitching during the offseason, Buchholz will be leaned upon to lead the staff for the remainder of 2014.
“Waking up in the morning and seeing what’s going on, and knowing that when 3:30 rolls around it’s going to get pretty hectic, the only thing I can say about it is that’s the business side of baseball. Things happen and you’ve just got to take what you’re given sometimes,” he said.