Dr. James Andrews gave Clay Buchholz the go-ahead to start pitching. But don’t expect to see the All-Star righthander start a game for the Red Sox any time soon.
Buchholz traveled to Gulf Breeze, Fla., and was examined by Andrews on Monday. He agreed with the Sox that Buchholz has only inflammation in the bursa sac of his shoulder and can pitch without fear of further injury.
“Clay comes back, I think, with a little bit more peace of mind and he’ll continue on the throwing program that’s been already put in place,” manager John Farrell said.
Buchholz threw from 100 feet Sunday with some intensity and will throw again Wednesday once he returns to Boston. But Farrell offered no timetable as to when Buchholz will pitch in a minor league game and then return to the majors.
“I don’t have a date,” Farrell said. “We feel like he’s going to have to continue to progress in some further distance in long toss before getting on the mound. He’s going to need probably three bullpens before we get into a simulated game situation before going out on a rehab start. That’s the best I can outline right now.”
Given the days off needed between those points on the schedule, Buchholz may not pitch for the Sox until sometime in mid-August — and that’s assuming there aren’t more setbacks.
Buchholz is 9-0 with a 1.71 earned run average.
The positive news on Buchholz should help general manager Ben Cherington better prioritize the team’s needs in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The likelihood that Buchholz will pitch again this season means Cherington can focus more on relief help than another starter.
Buchholz has not pitched since June 8 because of assorted pain. The issue started out as soreness in his AC joint in late May then become a strained trapezius muscle when Buchholz took a tumble covering first base.
In time, the Sox determined that Buchholz has bursitis, or inflammation of a bursa sac. Buchholz has thrown in the bullpen several times in recent weeks, but experienced discomfort when throwing off the mound and never advanced to pitching in a minor league game, or even throwing batting practice.
Buchholz told the team last week that he did not want to pitch until he was completely pain free because he feared greater injury.
According to Farrell, Andrews told Buchholz that any discomfort he feels is nothing to be alarmed about.
“From my understanding of the exam and what Dr. Andrews relayed to [Buchholz] is that he’s going to feel some, at times, some little stiffness or discomfort just by virtue of getting back in pitching shape,” Farrell said.
“[Andrews] felt that as [Buchholz] ramps back up, he’s going to experience some of those but the root of it is not because of an injury. It’s more just reconditioning and getting the throwing arm back in shape.
“I would think there would be more readiness on his part to push through that.”
Farrell was asked why the Sox waited so long to have Buchholz examined by Dr. Andrews.
“We felt like he had really turned the corner, as did Clay,” the manager said. “That was most recently in Seattle [earlier this month]. Then when we got to Oakland, he experienced that one bullpen where he had to shut down.”
Lester returns to hill
Jon Lester will face the Rays Tuesday after nine days of rest, the result of the All-Star break and an adjustment in the rotation.
The Sox believe the time off will help Lester rally from what has been a trying few months.
The lefthander was 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA through nine starts. But Lester is 2-6 with a 6.27 ERA in 11 starts since May 20.
“It’s going to be beneficial just from the sheer physical standpoint,” Farrell said. “It’s still going to come back to executing pitches inside a given game.
“We’re going to need his performance.”
Lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales, who has been on the disabled list with a strained pectoral muscle since June 25, threw in the bullpen and hopes to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment next week. The plan is for Morales to throw in the bullpen again Wednesday and Friday to build up arm strength ahead of a rehab assignment. Morales said the strain is on the upper part of the chest near the armpit and shoulder. He first experienced the issue in April then re-aggravated it in June. Morales has appeared in only six games this season. If he can get — and stay — healthy, the hard-throwing Morales could become a valuable piece of the bullpen . . . Backup catcher David Ross, who is on the 60-day disabled list recovering from a concussion, is expected to rejoin the team before the end of the homestand. He has been working out near his home in Florida but is not yet ready to play in games. Ross is not eligible to come off the DL until Aug. 18 . . . Farrell plans to give Jacoby Ellsbury a day off during the Rays series. Mike Napoli will get another day off, too.
Good to see you
Joel Hanrahan was back at Fenway Park for the first time since undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in May. The former closer, who is spending his rehab in Dallas, is in town for a follow-up exam . . . The two hits matched a season low for the Sox, who had that many at Toronto April 6 in a 5-0 loss . . . Henry Owens, a lefthander with Single A Salem, threw five no-hit innings vs. Potomac. Owens, who turned 21 Sunday, has thrown 11 no-hit innings in his last two starts, walking seven and striking out 19. Dating to July 11, Owens has 15 consecutive no-hit innings . . . The Sox honored 25 “Walk Heroes” before the game. The group included patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, their families, and the teams who will walk in the 25th anniversary of the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk Sept. 8. This year’s goal is to raise $7 million. Since its 1989 inception, the Walk has raised more than $87 million for care and research . . . The Sox wives are teaming with The Greater Boston Food Bank to host their 22d annual Can & Cash Drive Wednesday and Thursday. Beginning at 5 p.m., fans can make a cash donation at any of the Fenway gates. For every $10 donation, GBFB can provide 30 meals to those in need. Those who give will receive an autographed photo of a Red Sox player . . . Daniel Paul Ruth Hettrick, the great, great grandson of Babe Ruth, threw out the first pitch.
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com.