PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Even though Clay Buchholz showed flashes of his pre-injury self during Friday night’s rehab appearance for the Pawtucket Red Sox against the Syracuse Chiefs, he acknowledged that at least one more rehab start will be needed before he’s able to join the Red Sox.
“I need one more,” Buchholz said. “I think if I didn’t have one more I’d be thrown against Detroit [Boston opens a home series against the Tigers on Monday] and it’s hard to get out of the game making mistakes against that club.
“You don’t need to go out there and be second-guessing your pitches and the command of your pitches when you’re facing a lineup like that. I want to make sure I’m ready, physically, to go into a game.”
The PawSox defeated Syracuse, 2-1, Friday to win the International League North title. Buchholz’s third rehab start should come Wednesday with Pawtucket in Game 1 of the Governors’ Cup semifinal series against Rochester.
Buchholz experienced tightness in his neck, which was diagnosed as a neck strain, during a June 8 game against the Angels at Fenway Park. Eleven days later he was placed on Boston’s disabled list and was transferred to the 60-day DL on Aug. 19.
Buchholz, who was scheduled to throw 50-55 pitches, departed after throwing 53 (34 strikes), leaving with one out and one on in the fourth.
He worked 3⅓ innings, allowed seven hits, one run, and two st
rikeouts without a walk.
He topped out at 94 miles per hour on McCoy Stadium’s radar gun.
“Tonight I was much more impressed with the velocity that I was able to sustain over the period I was out there and getting over that hump of not having to worry about anything when I’m trying to get a fastball down and away to a righty with something on it,” Buchholz said. “I was able to throw all of my pitches with the same effort level and the same arm angle.
“Basically, that’s the final hump I had to get over as far as not having a second thought in the back of my head. Now it’s just getting that release point down on each of my pitches.”
A double play allowed Buchholz to escape what could have been a rough first inning.
Eury Perez led with a ground single to left, stole second, advanced to third on catcher Ryan Lavarnway’s throwing error, and scored on Jeff Kobernus’s infield hit.
After Danny Espinosa lined a single to right, Buchholz induced Chris Marrero to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and Will Rhymes to pop out to short.
Buchholz’s second inning was more efficient — one reason being he retired Zach Walters (fly ball to right) and Chris Rahl (pop to short) on four pitches. Jimmy Van Ostrand then lined a single to left before Buchholz got Jeff Howell to wave at a third strike.
Perez singled again to lead off the third. After Kobernus flied out to right, Espinosa ripped a single to right that Bryce Brentz bobbled for an error, putting runners on second and third.
Buchholz extricated himself from the jam by retiring Marrero on a liner to second and getting Rhymes to look at a third strike.
“This was the hardest I’ve tried to throw throughout all this stuff so it’s definitely a good thing for me,” he said. “The other day [Sunday with Lowell] it was all spin on my breaking pitches. Tonight I was trying to throw them in certain spots. The spin and feel felt good for the most part.”
Reliever Alex Wilson, who’s recovering from a thumb injury, threw a scoreless inning. Third baseman Brandon Snyder also continued his rehab from an elbow injury, singling in three at-bats.