PHILADELPHIA — Clay Buchholz convinced the Red Sox on Thursday that he is ready to return to the rotation. He is now tentatively scheduled to face the Yankees on Sunday night.
Buchholz threw in the bullpen at Citizens Bank Park for a second straight day and felt fine. He has not pitched since May 22 because of pain in the front of his right shoulder at the AC joint.
“It’s pretty much gone,” Buchholz said. “Now it just feels muscular and in the bullpen threw pretty much max effort. The ball came out of my hand a lot better today.”
The only hurdle left for Buchholz would be getting through a brief bullpen session on Saturday.
“Each time he’s gotten on the mound since last Sunday there’s been gradual improvement,” manager John Farrell said. “[Thursday] he felt the best he has.”
Buchholz is 7-0 with a 1.73 earned run average in 10 starts. Missing a start was the last thing he wanted.
“That’s what stinks about it,” he said. “You’re going out there and feeling good with everything you’re doing and you hit a little bump in the road. But I feel pretty confident I haven’t lost the touch of any pitches. If I have, I’ve got some days to tinker with it. I’m ready to get back out there.”
Buchholz faced the Yankees April 3 and allowed one run over seven innings.
Buchholz is 7-8 with a 4.67 ERA in 16 career starts when he has had six or more days of rest. Buchholz had six days of rest before his start against the Twins May 17. He held them to two runs over seven innings.
Barring changes, the Red Sox will start Jon Lester, Felix Doubront, and Buchholz against New York.
The Yankees list CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and Hiroki Kuroda as their starters.
Vendors pitch equipment to players and teams throughout spring training. But Rob Vito, the CEO of Unequal Technologies, made a memorable presentation to the Sox this season.
Vito took a bat to his midsection from head trainer Rick Jameyson while wearing a chest protector manufactured by his company. It was to demonstrate a composite material containing Kevlar that Unequal developed for equipment used to protect soldiers and athletes.
When Sox backup catcher David Ross took two foul balls off his mask on May 11 and suffered a concussion, he asked the medical staff to find a way to better protect him. They called Unequal, and Ross was given a skullcap, made of the material, he wore under his helmet when he returned from the disabled list.
On Wednesday, Ross met with Michael Foerster, Unequal’s vice president of research and product development, and had an extra layer of protection added inside his helmet.
“I wanted something in the front of the helmet to protect my head. I don’t want to get another [concussion], obviously,” Ross said. “The technology is pretty amazing.”
Ross will soon get a custom-made helmet with the material built in. Unequal also has worked with several other major league catchers, along with NFL quarterbacks.
Another possible use would be a cap that would help protect pitchers from head injuries.
“It’s lightweight and it gives you that extra security,” Ross said. “I think you’re going to see more of this kind of thing.”
David Ortiz started at first base Thursday night against the Phillies, his first game in the field since last June. Until a few weeks ago, he did not expect that would be possible because of lingering pain in his right Achilles’ tendon.
“Not really,” he said. “The baseball activities, from how I was feeling when I first started playing, helped me out a lot with being less concerned about things.
“When you are running and you are doing things, in the beginning I was very concerned about it. But after running [in games], I’m not even worried about it anymore.”
Ortiz came off the disabled list April 20 after missing all of spring training. But he has progressed well, even stealing two bases.
“I have no concern with getting injured by my Achilles’,” he said.
Ortiz said there no reason for Farrell to worry about whether he can play first base.
“I want to be out there. I know this lineup needs me out there,” Ortiz said. “I will try my best to be in the lineup. I follow orders. I don’t want John to be going crazy. I’m here, ready for whenever you need me.”
Shane Victorino will accompany the team to New York. But he could start a minor league rehabilitation assignment as soon as Sunday. Victorino, who is out with a hamstring strain and back injury, is eligible to return on Wednesday, and the plan is for him to play two or three games first . . . Will Middlebrooks, out with a back strain, is increasing his activity each day and hopes to take batting practice over the weekend . . . Rookie Jackie Bradley snapped an 0-for-21 skid with a single in the ninth inning . . . The Red Sox are 22-12 against the Phillies since 2004 and are 15-8 at Citizens Bank Park since 2005. The Sox do not play another interleague road series until a late-August trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles . . . Dustin Pedroia has 13 RBIs in the last 13 games . . . Deven Marrero, the team’s first-round pick last year, completed his degree in criminology and criminal justice at Arizona State online. Marrero is with Single A Salem . . . The Sox will return to their usual blue caps Friday. They wore their two-tone batting practice caps the last four games at the behest of Major League Baseball and its marketing arm.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.