FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Clay Buchholz burst onto the majors, throwing a no-hitter in his second career start as a rookie in 2007. Since then, he's alternated between trips to the disabled list and flashes of dominance.
Rick Porcello was picked up before 2015 and was expected to be a starter at the top of the rotation. That didn't work either, when he posted a career-worst 9-15 record with a 4.52 ERA in his first season with the Red Sox.
Can either step into the role of No. 2 starter after the club committed a $217-millon, seven-year deal for an ace in free agent left-hander David Price this offseason? Both Porcello and Buchholz have enjoyed success, but neither is coming into 2016 off a stellar year.
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For Buchholz, the numbers have been there for stretches, along with injuries. Porcello opened last year 4-9 with a 6.08 ERA after signing an $82.5-million, four-year contract on opening day.
''I don't think anybody's worried about what happened last year,'' Buchholz said. ''We learned a lot about each other.''
The 31-year-old Buchholz has certainly heard the tag of ''injury prone'' for his frequent trips to the DL. He said the label bothered him at first.
''It did the first time that I got hurt because I was never hurt before, but I try to learn from the reasoning behind it that there's ways I can prevent it,'' he said. ''People say a lot of stuff, but they're not going through the grind like the guys in the clubhouse. So everybody here knows all about it.''
Over the last eight seasons, Buchholz has spent at least three weeks on the DL seven times, missing large portions of seasons in 2011, '13 and '15.
In 2013, he was outstanding, opening with a 12-1 record and a 1.74 ERA. Then he was sidelined from early May to September with a strained neck.
Two years later, he went 7-7 with a solid 3.26 ERA, but was out the final 2 1-2 months with a strained elbow.
He's taken advice from John Lackey, his former teammate on Boston's 2013 World Series-winning team, and remains positive.
''(He) told me every year you're going to feel good for 10 starts, you may not win all the games, but you've pitched good enough to win and things happen,'' Buchholz said.
The 27-year-old Porcello was acquired from Detroit in December 2014, but didn't come close to expectations last year. However, he finished with a 3.14 ERA in his final eight starts.
''I would love to walk in here and start darting the ball down in the zone, but it doesn't happen like that,'' said Porcello, who was a combined 28-21 in his final two seasons in Detroit before the Red Sox trade.
Both pitchers know Boston has an ace.
''We got a lot better in just one signing with David,'' Buchholz said. ''I don't think we added pressure or take any pressure off with David. You've still got to do your job and pitch well.''