FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Considering that Clay Buchholz is the only pitcher in the Red Sox's starting rotation who was with the team at this time last year, it's eye-opening how quickly the new group has unified.
Buchholz and Rick Porcello both pitched in Game 1 of Tuesday's college doubleheader against Northeastern. Under normal circumstances in Spring Training, established pitchers leave the ballpark after they're done with their postgame routines and media obligations.
But the two righties hung around to watch Wade Miley make his debut for Boston in Game 2 against Northeastern.
Likewise, Miley got to the park early so he could watch Buchholz and Porcello.
"That means a lot," said Miley. "It's a big part of getting to know each other as pitchers and people. It was good the first game to go out and watch Buck and Porcello throw and some of the other guys, and it's cool when I came out to see those guys standing out there. That's big support. We have to lean on each other throughout the year, so why not start now?"
The interactions haven't been limited to the ballpark. There have been dinners and, yes, golf.
Of the bond the pitchers have formed so quickly, Miley quipped, "That's what golf does. Anytime we get out there and have a chance to play some golf, get to know each other, it helps. I think it's going to be fun this year."
"Whenever you can get together off the field, go to dinner, play golf or whatever, just to break the monotony of Spring Training, it helps," said Buchholz.
The Red Sox have heard countless times that they don't have a true ace. Time will tell if they do. But perhaps this will be one of those rotations where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
All five pitchers have taken different paths to this year's rotation.
Buchholz has been a fixture with Boston since 2008. Justin Masterson is back now, after being dealt to the Indians nearly six years ago.
Joe Kelly, the Mr. Personality of the rotation, is able to get his feet on the ground with his new team now, after being uprooted by the trade from St. Louis last July.
Miley, the lone lefty of the group, was acquired from the D-backs in December. And Porcello arrived from the Tigers after pitching with aces Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer the last few years.
"Everybody is pretty cool, and they know everyone has the same goal, and that's to win," said Buchholz. "Being in different organizations to start, or Masty coming back to this organization, we all have the same goal in mind. Everybody wants to get better every day. It makes it easy to sort of mesh."
Manager John Farrell, a former Major League starting pitcher himself, is pleased to see his new unit coming together so quickly.
"One, I think it's very important that there's support among the five," said Farrell. "They can learn from one another on days in which they're not pitching, just by talking the game and how each individual might look to attack a given hitter.
"We've had a number of meetings with the five of them already, just to talk about what they want and what we want to get out of them -- an identity to create among the five. There's been some opportunities to bond a little bit, but still, it's going to come down to how well they pitch and the quality number of innings that each contribute."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.