Curt Schilling: I don’t think Clay Buchholz wants to be an ace

Curt Schilling, who knows a thing or two about being an ace, believed Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz lacks the mentality to be one.
Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

By Steve DelVecchio

Clay Buchholz will start on opening day for the Boston Red Sox against the Philadelphia Phillies next Monday, but few would argue that the right-hander is an ace. While Buchholz has had stretches of dominance throughout his career, he has been wildly inconsistent. Curt Schilling believes a lot of that has to do with his mentality.

During a conference call to promote ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, Schilling told reporters he does not believe Buchholz is committed enough to be a solid No. 1 starter.

“Well, I don’t think he wants to be one,” Schilling told reporters, per Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald. “I think there’s a level of commitment mentally and physically you have to have. You have to have a little bit of a dark side, I think, in the sense that losing has to hurt so bad that you do whatever you can do to make sure it never happens again. Clay is just kind of, ‘Hey, I’m going to pitch today.'”

Buchholz was borderline untouchable during the first half of the 2013 season until he suffered what the team called an AC joint injury. The injury basically amounted to just shoulder fatigue, but Buchholz has not been the same since.

“He’s unbelievably talented, obviously, physically, but there’s another level to the game,” Schilling added. “And I think that the reason he’s been inconsistent — Cy Young potential in numbers one year to ‘what the hell happened’ the next year — is upstairs. I think it’s all above his shoulders.”

For what it’s worth, Buchholz said he sees a “night and day” difference between where he’s at now and the 8-11 record and 5.34 ERA he posted last season. His fastball has been hovering in the mid-90s, whereas last year he was topping out at 90 and 91.

Unless Buchholz has somehow morphed into an intense competitor, Schilling is right. The Red Sox could wind up having to trade for an ace, which is something this veteran recently got in trouble for pointing out.

Buchholz is a great middle-of-the-rotation starter when healthy. Is he going to match up against an opponent’s ace every time around? We have our doubts.

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