FISHKILL, N.Y. — Rest assured, Red Sox Nation. Clay Buchholz is on track to rejoin the starting rotation in the coming weeks.
Buchholz pitched in his first competitive game since June 8 on Sunday, making a minor league rehab start for the Single A Lowell Spinners against the Hudson Valley Renegades. He threw 38 pitches over two-thirds of an inning.
The All-Star righthander’s stat line was far from impressive — three runs allowed (one earned) on one hit and three walks, with one strikeout — but he made it through the outing without any discomfort in his right shoulder.
“I felt good,” Buchholz said. “My only concern was coming out here and pitching and physically I felt fine.
“I think I sort of got done what I needed to. I hadn’t thrown 40 pitches all together through all this stuff so I think that was something I needed to do.”
Buchholz used all five of his pitches but struggled with his command against seven batters, throwing just 19 strikes. He clearly needed to shake off some rust.
“It’s an art, if you don’t do it for a steady period of time then, you know, you feel awkward doing it,” Buchholz said. “Facing batters in a game situation is completely different than facing the guys on my team.”
As for velocity, Buchholz didn’t reach his usual 92-93 miles per hour on his fastball, but touched 89 several times. He was observed by Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington.
“I was basically just trying to go through the motions and find myself mechanically, and just let the pitch come out of my hand,” Buchholz said.
“I sort of did the same as I’ve been doing in the sim games and bullpens, kind of eased my way through it,” he added. “I wasn’t trying to throw as hard as I could — just trying to find the zone.”
Buchholz, 29, has been on the disabled list with inflammation in the bursa sac of his right shoulder. Prior to his injury, he was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA.
Buchholz was scratched from a potential rehab start in July and experienced pain during multiple bullpen sessions over the past two months.
But he has progressed well of late, from a three-inning simulated game last Tuesday in San Francisco to a successful bullpen on Friday in Los Angeles, and finally the rehab start for Lowell.
When asked what comes next, Buchholz answered, “I’m sure I’ll find that out tomorrow when I see everybody.”
“I heard they want me to do three [rehab starts] but the minor league season is only so long so in my head I only wanted to do two,” he said. “I’m going to treat this next bullpen that I throw as a game and probably try to throw more pitches, and then go out after that.
“I think one more [minor league outing] would do it if I can get up and down enough times and then, obviously, I’ve got to find the strike zone a little more often, but I think that will come.”
Buchholz had been scheduled to make his next rehab start on Friday, but Red Sox manager John Farrell said Sunday night in Los Angeles that it could come sooner because his outing Sunday was short.