Clay Buchholz to start Opening Day

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell eased the not-so-breathless speculation about his Opening Day starter by tabbing Clay Buchholz to go against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 6.

"He came into camp in a good place, both mentally and physically," Farrell said. "The line score last time out to me doesn't reflect the way the ball came out of his hand. Now, line scores are important. I get it. But he feels good physically. He's confident. We've seen when Clay has been in that place, he's one of the better pitchers in baseball."

It will be the first Opening Day start of Buchholz's nine-year career. Farrell said Sunday that new acquisition Rick Porcello will pitch the second game against the Phillies, with Justin Masterson or Wade Miley going in Game 3. Joe Kelly could be the fifth starter, but his availability is uncertain because of a biceps injury. Kelly will pitch in a minor league game Wednesday and could start the season on the disabled list.

Buchholz struggled in his last spring training start, giving up 12 hits and four runs over five-plus innings Friday.

With Jon Lester gone, Buchholz is the longest-tenured member on the club's pitching staff. Farrell said Buchholz has embraced his role.

"He has lived the changes that have gone on around him," Farrell said. "He's fully aware of everything that is Boston and that goes along with being a starting pitcher for the Red Sox. He doesn't back away from it. He may go about it in his own way, he's not the most vocal guy in the world, but he's been here for a number of years. To me, he's in a position to embrace that and assume that."

Farrell came into spring training with a plan that included Buchholz as the Opening Day starter, but he wanted to see the situation play out to make sure there were no injuries or setbacks. He said he wasn't looking for any specific intangibles from Buchholz.

"Guys have an understanding internally where we've got guys lined up, so you let it work its way through," Farrell said. "I think most every starting pitcher views Opening Day as an honor that's been earned to some extent, and through time in the organization, through elite performance in fairly long stretches for Clay. This is his time."