When he met with writers Wednesday afternoon, Red Sox manager John Farrell did not deny that Clay Buchholz has a physical issue. But Buchholz, he said, will start either Game 3 or Game 4 of the World Series in St. Louis.
Asked if Buchholz was dealing with some kind of problem, Farrell said, “Not to the point of keeping him out of starting.”
So there is an issue?
“Not to the point where he’s not going to pitch,” Farrell said.
But the Sox still have not decided on a Game 3 starter. Buchholz and Jake Peavy will start Games 3 and 4, in an order to be decided.
“If we feel that an additional day of rest for either is beneficial, we’re certainly going to take advantage of that,” Farrell said.
Peavy has not pitched since going three innings Oct. 16. It’s highly unlikely that he would need extra rest. Buchholz pitched Saturday.
The Game 3 starter would be able to come back on normal rest to start a possible Game 7. Farrell acknowledged that part of the decision is whether Buchholz would be physically capable of doing that.
“That’s being factored in,” the manager said. “We have to stay conscious of that, given the last two starts when he’s hit the wall, it’s happened pretty quick. All that is being factored in.”
Buchholz struggled after throwing 74 pitches over four innings in his first postseason start. In his second start, his problem came after throwing 62 pitches over five innings. In his third start, on Saturday, the problems popped up after 74 pitches and five innings.
In all three cases, he lost command and some velocity. Buchholz missed three months this season with a shoulder injury before returning in September and making four starts.
Buchholz also worked at an extraordinarily slow pace in Game 6 of the ALCS and made repeated pickoff throws with runners on first. That is often a sign a pitcher is in some discomfort.
“I think just the intensity of each pitch . . . you combine that with the high number of pickoffs and you’re starting to add to the total number of throws,” Farrell said. “What it shows is the intensity.
“Whether there’s also a mental fatigue part that’s coming into that because there’s so much energy spent on controlling that side of it . . . we’re working through those things to try to make that a little bit more at ease.”
Farrell said the Red Sox wanted to watch John Lackey pitch Game 2 before deciding on a Game 3 starter.
“We’re going to take a look at tomorrow, going to see how it goes with a righthander, because there’s different styles between Peavy and Buchholz and that’s where we’ll adjust,” Farrell said.
Though Farrell said the three-inning simulated game Felix Doubront threw Tuesday was scheduled, it appeared that the Red Sox were preparing Doubront in case he is needed to make a start.
Doubront will not be available out of the bullpen until Game 2 as a result of the work. It would be unusual for a team to purposely make a reliever unavailable for a game.
The Red Sox also had lefthander Matt Thornton, who is not on the playoff roster, throw Tuesday.
Doubront has thrown only 3⅔ innings in the last month, counting the postseason. Farrell said it’s uncertain how much the lefthander could pitch if he made a start at this point.