FORT MYERS, Fla. ó Clay Buchholz pulled into the parking lot at JetBlue Park just after 9 a.m. today, pleased with himself for having arrived at Red Sox camp four days ahead of schedule.
Then he found out that Daniel Bard, Josh Beckett, and Jon Lester showed up a few days earlier.
"A day late and a dollar short," Buchholz said, grinning.
"He better never let that happen again," manager Bobby Valentine cracked.
Buchholz will throw in the bullpen tomorrow for what he said will be the ninth or 10th time this winter. After missing the final 3 1/2 months of last season with a back injury, he started his offseason routine earlier.
"I feel pretty good," Buchholz told the Globe and WBZ Radio. "Itís come together. Itís been good so far. As of right now, I feel good."
Buchholz, who starts a four-year, $29.94 million deal this season, also moved into a new house in Arizona this winter with his wife and daughter. That enabled him to spend time working out with Dustin Pedroia.
The hope is to get to 200 innings for the first time in his career.
"I think itís big. Itís what I want to do every time I come to spring training. Itís what I prepare myself to do," Buchholz said. "The last two seasons came with injuries that I didnít have any control over. It was frustrating in that aspect. But you can learn from everything. Thatís what Iím coming into spring training with. Things happen and you have to take what youíre given sometimes."
Valentine traveled to Arizona in January to meet with Buchholz, Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Darnell McDonald over dinner. Buchholz came away impressed.
"Heís a good dude. Heís upbeat. I havenít gotten to talk to him a whole lot. Seems like heís willing to take on the challenge of managing the Boston Red Sox. Everybody knows how hard that can be at times. I think itís going to be good for us," Buchholz said.
"It seems like he likes to have control over everybody and I think thatís something that we need. Then again, heís a relaxed person, too. I think itíll fit in well with this clubhouse."
Buchholz was one of the starting pitchers who occasionally drank beer in the clubhouse during games. It was a practice, he admitted, that has been going on for a while without public notice.
"It happened more than that in previous years. But we did well and it wasnít to be spoken of," he said. "The main issue is that we didnít make the playoffs and that was something for people to talk about."
Buchholz said it was a mistake and a lesson learned. Valentine, he said, will set a new tone.
"Weíre all grown men, everybody can take care of themselves. But sometimes whenever you veer off the path that you need to take, you need somebody there to tell you, ĎThis is where we need to go and I see you doing this.í In that aspect, itís going to be good for us," he said.
For more from Buchholz, see tomorrow's Globe.