The Last Goodbye For Buchholz?

Daisuke Matsuzaka is on the disabled list with a shoulder strain and has one win for the Red Sox this season.


Now 42-year-old Tim Wakefield is on the DL with a bad back, and by the time he pitches again, will likely have been out of action for nearly a month.


Still wish Boston had traded Brad Penny or dumped John Smoltz to make room for Clay Buchholz?


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(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


You gotta admit, right now the decision to have Clay biding his time in Pawtucket is looking awfully smart.  Rather than having to go find this year’s version of a retread like Paul Byrd, the Sox have Buchholz ready to plug into the rotation with a ton of confidence and a light workload so far this season.


Look, Theo Epstein is not perfect and has made his share of mistakes (36,000,000 of ’em in the case of Julio Lugo), but the decision to have Clay Buchholz spend 3 ˝ months in Pawtucket this year wasn’t one of them. 


Clay is a great kid with enormous talent.  I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been behind the mic for all 34 of his appearances for the Pawtucket Red Sox over the past three seasons.


And I’ll be really happy for him if I never have that opportunity again.


* * * * *


While waiting to find out if the PawSox were going to be rained out on Tuesday night in Rochester (they were), I had a great opportunity during the afternoon storm to talk to Aaron Bates.


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Bates grew up in the La Selva Beach community in Santa Cruz, CA, and I learned from talking to him that it is near the San Andreas Fault and was close to the epicenter of the infamous 1989 earthquake that delayed the World Series.


“I was 5 years old and doing my homework when my brother and I noticed everything in the house started shaking,” Bates recalled.  “In school, we had gone through earthquake preparation, so I hid under my desk and he hid under the kitchen table.  We followed the rules for about 10 seconds – then we ran upstairs to find our mom.”


The ’89 World Series was called “The Battle of the Bay” since it pitted the Oakland Athletics vs. the San Francisco Giants, and one of the key players was Aaron’s first childhood hero – A’s slugger Mark McGwire.


A few years later, Bates had a chance meeting with McGwire at a restaurant in his home town.


“He was dining at a place named ‘Zelda’s’ on Capitola Beach and me, my brother, and two friends saw him go in,” Bates told me.  “So we promptly raced home – which was about five minutes away – got his baseball cards and went back to the restaurant and waited outside for about an hour because he said he would sign if we waited patiently.”


Thanks in part to that childhood memory; Bates does the same thing for kids that wait patiently for his autograph.


“I’m a pretty easy ‘sign’ and try to sign for everybody, but whenever I come out of the locker room and there are kids waiting there, I’ll try to have a conversation with them because they are definitely troopers for waiting at least an hour after the game.  So I’ll definitely sign something for them and talk to them a little bit,” Bates said.


* * * * *


How’s this for great timing?  Luis Tiant is going to be at Frontier Field for an autograph signing on Wednesday night when Charlie Zink is scheduled to pitch in the second game of a doubleheader against Rochester.


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Tiant was Zink’s head coach at the Savannah College of Art and Design and convinced the Red Sox to give Charlie a shot when he went undrafted out of college.


Zink has really been struggling lately.  In his last 7 starts, Charlie is 0-6 with a 7.65 ERA.  In 37.2 innings, he’s walked 27, hit 10 batters with pitches, and only struck out 5.


Let’s hope “El Tiante” brings “Chuck the Knuck” some good luck.


* * * * *  


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Don’t forget to tune in early on Wednesday night for the make-up doubleheader.  The PawSox and Red Wings will play a pair of 7-inning games beginning at 6:05.  Our pre-game coverage gets underway at 5:50 on the PawSox radio network and


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  1. juliasrants

    I just followed you on Twitter! (@werbiefitz) The Red Sox did the absolute right thing with Buchholz! He needed that time with the PawSox to build up the confidence that he was lacking. If he started the year with at Fenway I don’t think he would be as good as he is now. And the ’89 World Series? I remember having the game on and when everything started swaying thinking “Is the cameraman drunk?” Living in Massachusetts I don’t have much experience with earthquakes. As a small child I can only imagine how scary it must have been for Aaron Bates and his brother.


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