August 17, 2007
Ah, darlin'. What's happened to you?
"Oh, it's hard right now," the pitcher said. "I mean, growing up and playing baseball my whole life, never had any kind of failure or adversity to go through. This year it's been a whole ball of adversity. Trying to find different ways, trying to find a routine that works for me, that I can stick with."
"I've always been able to throw all my pitches for strikes," Buchholz said. "Then sometimes, when I get behind in the count, I feel like, 'Oh, God. Well, now I have to throw this for a strike.' And when I don't, that's when things start turning south. It's just something that I've got to work on a little bit harder, I guess. I don't know how much harder I can work on it because I've been working harder than I ever have in my life.
"There's something to it, and I feel like I'm really close to being really good right now. Just got to keep going after it. It'll happen sooner or later. I think I'm good enough to go out there and compete and be good at this level.
"It's just - it's got to happen."
(Amalie Benjamin in the Globe, August 10, 2008)
On the one hand... he's our fifth starter, he probably would have been in AAA this year if Schilling had been around or even if Colon had been healthier, and it's almost more realistic to worry about Beckett not quite being an ace this year than the struggles of the last guy in the rotation. (Not to mention that it really seems when Buck struggles, the first reliever in lets in all his baserunners, and then either that reliever or the next guy spots a few more runs for good measure.)
On the other hand... he's lost right now, and it's hard to believe that he's going to find his moorings in a pennant race.
I've often felt like learning how to do something properly is the smallest part of learning. Learning how to recover from your mistakes on the fly is what's key to success, because that's what gives you confidence and lets you relax. I've wished on his last two or three outings that someone would say to Buck, "For this game--don't think. Throw what's called. Ignore the baserunner unless we tell you to throw. Just execute. Don't think." But short of that, it's hard to imagine anything other than optioning him to the PawSox [edit: or Portland, where he has actually been sent] and letting him breathe [and work with pitching coach Mike Cather again].
Oddly enough, that's apparently also the case with my other Cla(y), Cla Meredith, who was optioned to AAA by the Padres for a breather and some confidence building.
It's easy to forget how young these pups are, and how sometimes success is followed by struggle.
I believe in both of you. Hang in there.