Spring Training saw an early AL East battle between the Tampa Bay Rays and the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. Boston saw the 2014 debut of Clay Buchholz get the start on the mound. After only making 16 starts last season, Boston needs to have a strong contribution from Buchholz this year if they hope to get back to the Fall Classic.
In the Grapefruit League start, Buchholz only threw one inning in the game allowing one run on a walk and three hits. Whether it was by design or not, seeing Buchholz only throw one inning could raise an eyebrow of concern. Injuries have hampered Buchholz’ career as he has only made over 20 start twice in six full seasons.
As the spring goes on, Buchholz will need to regain his form from the beginning of last season that saw strong success. For Red Sox Nation, getting the righty healthy for a full season is critical within the stacked AL Beast division.
This winter, the Boston rotation was viewed as a major strength for the club, but in the early going that strength is getting tested. The Red Sox have already seen the mini retirement from Ryan Dempster and an off-field injury to Jake Peavy. If Buchholz encounters any set backs as well, the Sox may need to do some scrambling early on to recover.
When he is healthy, Buchholz is capable of big things. Before missing much of the second half of the season last year, he was 9-0 and an All-Star selection. He wound up finishing the year 12-1 before laboring through the postseason. Under the tutelage of manager John Farrell, getting 30 solid efforts from Buchholz and Jon Lester would be the 1-2 punch Boston has been longing for. Having two Cy Young worthy candidates compliment that offense would put the Sox in the hunt to repeat as champs.
With the teams around them bulking up and gunning for them, the Sox need a strong injury-free year from Buchholz to stay ahead of the pack.
Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.