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Clay Buchholz’s return pushed back again, no timetable for return

06.23.13 at 8:04 am ET
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Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz was unable to throw a scheduled simulated game on Saturday, a development that means that his anticipated return on Tuesday will have to be postponed. Manager John Farrell suggested to reporters in Detroit that there was no specific physical setback to Buchholz, but that instead, lingering discomfort in his sore trapezius muscle (described as a neck strain by the Sox) convinced the pitcher that delaying his return was the right course of action.

The pitcher is experiencing phyiscal improvement, but Farrell said in Saturday’s pregame media session that the progress of that improvement has been “a little bit slower than anticipated.” As such, the decision was made — after Buchholz threw long-toss and some pitches on flat ground — to scrap plans to throw three simulated innings on Saturday. At this point, the Sox suggest that there is no risk of Buchholz suffering greater physical harm from throwing, but that the pitcher wants to feel complete comfort before returning to the mound.

“The information and feedback he has gotten, we have gotten from everyone that has gotten their hands on him and examined him is that there would be no further shoulder involvement and risk of damage, but at the same time, it’s on the throwing side of his body, and if he’s not comfortable, we’re not going to jeopardize it in any way,” Farrell told reporters in Detroit. “Competing at this level, if there’s something that is there that is a distraction to you and feeling like you’re not 100 percent, we’re not doing he or us any justice. There’s been repeated feedback given to him that he’s not putting himself in harm’s way. This is a situation that’s restricting his intensity. All that being said, we’ve got to let it resolve and build from there.”

With the simulated outing postponed, the timetable for Buchholz’s return is seemingly delayed by at least a week. He will be re-examined in Boston on Monday after the team returns following the conclusion of its four-game roadtrip in Detroit. Whenever he is comfortable throwing, the Sox need him to throw off a mound and then, once that hurdle is cleared, send him out for at least one minor league rehab start, from which he’d have to go through a normal post-outing four-day rest cycle before he could return to the big leagues.

“Obviously, right now, he’s not going to start Tuesday, so basically what we’re doing is going as tolerated with throwing,” Farrell told reporters. “It’s likely that at some point we’re probably going to have to get him out on a rehab assignment, at least one start for now, but there’s no time frame for that. We’ve got to get him on the mound first and build from there.”

With Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA) unavailable, the team will need to get another start from either Allen Webster (who showed what Farrell described as big league stuff but with a lack of execution and command that resulted in his five-run yield in 4 1/3 innings on Saturday), Alfredo Aceves (who has made three straight strong spot starts) or Rubby De La Rosa (who tossed six dominating shutout innings for Pawtucket on Saturday night against the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate).

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