While injured, Buchholz mentored young Phils

Veteran made two starts this season before shoulder injury

While injured, Buchholz mentored young Phils

PHILADELPHIA -- Clay Buchholz could have cleared out his locker and gone home in April.

After all, the right-hander had no strong connections to Philadelphia. He joined the Phillies following a December trade with the Red Sox, but sustained an elbow injury just two starts into the season that led to season-ending surgery.

Buchholz, 33, could have collected the $13.5 million due in the final season of his contract and rehabbed at home. Cliff Lee did just that in 2015, when he aggravated an elbow injury in Spring Training. But Buchholz traveled back and forth from Texas, going home when the Phillies hit the road and returning to Philadelphia for homestands.

"It's my job," Buchholz said this week at Citizens Bank Park. "I love baseball. I love being around the game."

But Buchholz also thought he could help, passing along advice he received in the past from former Red Sox pitchers like Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Jon Lester and Tim Wakefield.

"I tried to be a sponge with it and share the wealth with the younger guys that don't really have a feel for what's going on and how and why," Buchholz said. "I've gotten to know a lot of guys in here, being able to talk from my point of view. I've been as good as you can be and I've been as bad as you can be in this game.

"It's a thin line for a young kid that doesn't really know what's going on, or needs some advice. I've let them know that even if it's a negative thing, it doesn't have to be totally negative. You can take positives out of anything negative that happens to you. Have a short memory with everything, good or bad. That's what I try to preach, because that's what was preached to me."

Buchholz provided a positive veteran presence that seemed to otherwise be lacking in the Phillies' clubhouse this season. He just hopes some of it helped the team's young starting pitchers.

"It's a talented group," Buchholz said. "Sometimes, it's harder when you don't really know what to expect as a young kid. You're trying to stay in the big leagues. That's a tough spot for guys, especially guys that haven't faced any adversity before. And then, when you're facing adversity for the first time at this level, it's hard to learn that way if you're on the losing end more times than not. I think, moving forward -- it might be next year, it might be the year after that -- there's definitely some bright spots in the future for this club."

And as for Buchholz's future? He said he begins throwing Oct. 9 and he expects to be ready to pitch in Spring Training, wherever he is. He will be a free agent following the season.

"It's my first go around with the whole free-agent deal," Buchholz said. "I'll have to prove that I'm ready to go and I'm healthy, I'm sure. But I'm looking forward to it."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.