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John Farrell: Clay Buchholz has a hit a ‘plateau’ in his rehab from inflammation

07.18.13 at 6:29 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz was supposed to return to work on Thursday in a bullpen session.

But he has hit a bump in the road in his rehab from lingering soreness in his right shoulder and neck. And all the Red Sox can do now is wait.

Skipper John Farrell said Thursday, during a team workout at Fenway Park, that Buchholz had his bullpen session scratched due to soreness after attempting to pick up the intensity in throwing from a mound during the last road trip.

“Over the past couple of days, [he] did not pick up a baseball,” Farrell said. “He shut down over the All-Star break. He’ll be re-examined here [Friday], at which time we’re hopeful that he would resume a throwing program.

“As optimistic as we were on this past road trip, particularly coming out of his work sessions in Seattle, where it felt like he was really turning a corner, he’s still got some lingering soreness in there. Through treatment, through some medication, letting that take hold over these past few days, that re-exam will be done [Friday] and hopefully that throwing program will start back up either [Friday] or Saturday.”

Farrell said the team allowed Buchholz to throw off a mound after being symptom-free in his flat ground work.

“It was at the increased intensity coming out of Seattle and then the follow-up bullpen in Oakland. As that [work load] was accumulating, it just felt like he wasn’t getting over that hump.

“He wasn’t having any issues with throwing long toss and intensity on flat ground and even with some shortened-up flat ground work. Once he got on the mound, and whether it was consecutive outings or consecutive work sessions of that intensity, that’s where he felt like things were starting to take a step back a little bit. As a result, that’s why there some addition anti-inflammatory medication given and just trying to get him past that plateau he’s hit.”

Farrell said Buchholz, who’s had two previous MRIs, will be examined by team doctor Peter Asnis on Friday before a decision is made to take more images of the troublesome area.

“He had an MRI coming out of the two games in which he pitched,” Farrell said. “When he felt the re-occurring symptoms, he had an MRI at that point, which didn’t show any significant changes from one that he had previously. It concurs that there’s inflammation in there, in a centralized spot. We’ve got to treat those symptoms and gradually get him back to where the endurance can sustain that intensity.”

Buchholz was in the middle of an amazing start to the season, going 9-0 with a league-leading 1.71 ERA in 12 starts. He last started against the Angels on June 8 and hasn’t pitched since.

“We all want the same thing, and that is Clay getting back on the mound. But along the way, we’ve got to balance a player’s current and long-term health. If it’s less than [100 percent], we don’t know how effective he would be. A player’s health is first and foremost, and we’re taking every step along the way to ensure that.”

Farrell maintains that it’s his hope this injury is a short-term problem and won’t languish for the rest of the season.

“We have every intention and hope and outlook that he will resume pitching this season,” Farrell said when asked if Buchholz’s season could be in jeopardy. “I wish I could give you an exact [return] date, and I know Clay would, too. There’s no one more frustrated in this than Clay, and that needs to be made clear. He’s a strong competitor, he recognizes the situation we’re in and he wants to be on the mound. That’s the bottom line. But at the same time, his body is telling him [wait].”

Meanwhile, after serving as the DH for nine innings Thursday night, Farrell said Stephen Drew (right hamstring) would play shortstop on Friday for Triple-A Pawtucket before returning to Boston. The hope is, according to Farrell, to have the shortstop back in time to play Saturday’s game against the Yankees.

Farrell also said that he will be keeping Koji Uehara in the closer’s role and not switching back to Andrew Bailey anytime soon.

“We’re not looking to change just for the sake of change,” Farrell said. “Koji’s done an outstanding job in that spot and he’s our closer right now.”

Uehara is 2-0 with a 1.73 ERA and has converted 8-of-11 saves this season, including three straight since the team’s meltdown in the ninth inning against the Angels on July 6. He was charged a blown save in Boston’s 9-7 loss.

Farrell also explained the organization’s decision to outright Alfredo Aceves, following his last appearance on July 9 in Seattle, throwing 2/3 innings, allowing one hit and no runs in relief of Allen Webster in Boston’s 11-8 win. He won his last three spot starts en route to a 4-1 record and a 4.86 ERA. He was 4-1 in six starts with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP.

“It wasn’t anything specific inside that game,” Farrell said. “It just came down to performance-related and we saw Alfredo from this point forward contributing out of the bullpen. And while he did a great job in the spot starts he made, and that’s not to say he wouldn’t find himself in the same situation coming up making a spot start, but we felt with [Brandon] Workman’s addition, [Drake] Britton’s addition, we’re at the point of finding out about guys internally [in the organization], particularly in the bullpen.”

Farrell, reminded that Aceves still had options remaining, was asked if the club needed to outright him to make a spot available on the 40-man roster.

“We’ll find out if we need that roster spot,” Farrell said. “Any other pending changes, I’m unaware of those right now but that was the decision to make that roster move.”

Read More: Andrew Bailey, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, John Farrell
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