Clay Buchholz received positive news about the health of his shoulder when he visited Dr. James Andrews on Monday. But just how positive depends on who is interpreting the report.
Buchholz indicated on Tuesday that he doesn’t expect to be ready to pitch in a major league game until late August or early September.
“I definitely have a strain in there,” Buchholz said. “The strength of my shoulder was as good as it’s ever been. It’s all in the throwing motion.”
Buchholz said the injury — a strained bursa sac — should heal fairly soon and that his shoulder is structurally sound. Andrews, in fact, told Buchholz that his shoulder was better than he might have expected for a 28-year-old major league pitcher.
But Andrews also counseled patience. According to Buchholz, the orthopedist told him not to try pitching off a mound until he could throw from 90 feet at full intensity and not feel any pain.
“That’s when the light comes on and I can start throwing off the mound,” Buchholz said.
Because Buchholz has not pitched in a game since June 8, he would need time to get in game shape. At a minimum, that would require three bullpen sessions, a simulated game, and then a minor league rehabilitation game.
On Monday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said Buchholz would have “more readiness on his part to push through” any pain he felt.
Buchholz doesn’t seem to agree with that.
“That’s another thing. If I do this too quick then I’m going to be dealing with it for the rest of the year,” he said. “I think that’s a risk for me because I wouldn’t be able to pitch right now.
“Knowing that, if I don’t do this right, [Andrews] said you can either pitch four or five starts in the last half of the season and hopefully we’re lucky enough to go to the playoffs and pitch in the playoffs. Or you can do it wrong and not pitch at all.”
Getting back for four or five starts suggests Buchholz may not come off the disabled list for another month.
“There’s no timeline on it,” Buchholz said. “I’m going to go as quick as I can at the comfort level that he told me to go at.”
On that, Farrell agreed.
“Whatever time is needed, Clay is going to return to us when he’s ready,” he said.
Trying to pitch now, Buchholz said, would be fruitless.
“The last couple of bullpens that I’ve tried, it wouldn’t be fun for me to go out and pitch the way it felt. And that was going at 70 percent in the bullpen. I don’t want to imagine what it would feel like at 100 percent,” he said.
Buchholz was asked how confident he was about being able to start again this season.
“I said I was pretty confident I was going to pitch a month and a half ago. But I feel good about it knowing the steps that I have to take to get back and not pushing myself over the edge,” he said. “I feel pretty good about it.”
Said Farrell: “I think we’re still very optimistic he’s going to pitch for us. To be determined on the date.”
Buchholz was 9-0 with a 1.71 earned run average before he went on the disabled list.
“I was having the best season that I ever thought that I could have in this game. And I promise you I definitely want to be out there pitching,” he said.
Trade winds hifting?
The uncertainty with Buchholz could increase the team’s desire to obtain a starting pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
For now, rookie righthander Brandon Workman has a spot in the rotation. But Jake Peavy (White Sox) or Yovani Gallardo (Brewers) would be considered an upgrade.
“I wouldn’t pin our assessment of the trade market on Brandon Workman. He’s not the linchpin on whether we make a trade or not,” Farrell said. “As I’ve stated multiple times, [general manager Ben Cherington] will be aggressive in a situation with a deal that makes sense for us.”
De La Rosa in relief?
The Red Sox intended to try Workman as a reliever. Now that he has worked his way into the rotation, Rubby De La Rosa could get work out of the bullpen.
De La Rosa is 2-2 with a 3.80 ERA in 18 starts for Triple A Pawtucket. Farrell said last week the team had no plans to try him in relief. But that has changed.
“We haven’t said that we would not bring up De La Rosa in that spot. That’s not to say that something is imminent,” Farrell said. “As we look to strengthen our team in any potential way, whether that’s internally or not, he’s a guy that we’ve had discussions that we may take a look at him in that role.”
De La Rosa has not pitched well of late, giving up 11 earned runs on 16 hits over 8⅔ innings in three starts.
The Aug. 18 game against the Yankees at Fenway was picked up by ESPN and will start at 8:05 p.m. The Red Sox play in San Francisco the next night . . . The Sox are 34-18 at Fenway with wins in 11 of their last 14. They won 34 games at home all last season . . . The Sox are 20-1 when they score first at home . . . Mike Napoli (2 for 4) is 9 of his last 24 with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, and four RBIs . . . Koji Uehara, who pitched a perfect ninth inning, has allowed one earned run in his last 21 innings since June 10. Only two of the last 24 batters he has faced have reached base . . . Jarrod Saltalamacchia has 25 doubles, matching Dustin Pedroia and Napoli for the team lead . . . Sox pitchers struck out 13 without a walk . . . Lefty reliever Franklin Morales is scheduled for a second bullpen session Wednesday as he continues to come back from a strained pectoral muscle. “Any contributions he could make would be welcomed,” Farrell said . . . Former closer Joel Hanrahan, who is out for the season recovering from Tommy John surgery, spent some time in the clubhouse. The team allowed Hanrahan to go through rehab in Dallas, where he lives. Hanrahan, who will be a free agent after the season, hopes to start pitching in games during spring training. He has dropped some weight thanks to the use of a personal chef.