Clay Buchholz is healthy, aiming for 200-inning season

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Some good news for Red Sox fans: Clay Buchholz is healthy, and he’s feeling so good that he’s hoping to top 200 innings for the first time in his career.

The right-hander, an All-Star in 2010, pitched only 82 2/3 innings in 2011 and missed more than half the season with a back injury. Boston fans have to wonder if the Red Sox could have avoided their stunning late-season collapse if Buchholz had been healthy, as he was quite effective when he pitched.

Now he’s hoping to rebound and surpass his career-high of 173 2/3 innings, as reported by Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe:

“I think it’s big. It’s what I want to do every time I come to spring training. It’s what I prepare myself to do,” Buchholz said. “The last two seasons came with injuries that I didn’t have any control over. It was frustrating in that aspect. But you can learn from everything. That’s what I’m coming into spring training with. Things happen and you have to take what you’re given sometimes.”

Among the other topics Buchholz discussed:

  • He, along with Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Darnell McDonald, had dinner with manager Bobby Valentine in January. Buchholz described Valentine as “a good dude” who is relaxed yet wants to have control over everyone. He meant that in a good way.
  • He also said the infamous clubhouse beer drinking had been going on for a while, and only became a big deal when the team fell apart. Buchholz did admit, however, that it was a mistake, and that Valentine will set a new tone.

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Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.