Clay Buchholz said Wednesday night he has been dealing with tightness in his right shoulder since his last start. He hopes to start in Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday in St. Louis.
Buchholz said a series of tests this week showed no specific injury.
“I couldn’t really get loose. It was a constant tightness that I felt. That’s all there is. I’m going to go. That’s my only goal, to be prepared to start on Sunday.”
Buchholz, while confident he will be able to pitch, opened to the door to being scratched.
“That’s our goal, for me to be out there on Sunday. I’m going to do everything I can to make that happen and be well enough to go out there and give the team a chance to win,” he said. “If that’s me going out there at 90 percent, I’ll go out there at 90 percent.
“But if it does come down to the wire and I’m going to run out there and not help the team win, there’s no reason for me to run out there. The last couple of days have been the rehab and working with the trainers.”
If Buchholz cannot start, lefthander Felix Doubront could move into the rotation.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said the team would look to give Buchholz all the time off it could.
“That would point to Sunday,” he said after the Sox won Game 1 of the Series, 8-1.
Earlier in the day, Farrell choose his words carefully when asked if Buchholz was injured. “Not to the point of keeping him out of starting,” he said.
Farrell claimed then that the Red Sox were waiting to name their Game 3 starter (Jake Peavy) because they wanted to decide what style of pitcher would be most effective following Game 2 starter John Lackey.
But then he acknowledged there were physical reasons, too.
“If we feel that an additional day of rest for either is beneficial, we’re certainly going to take advantage of that,” Farrell said.
The Game 3 starter would be able to come back on normal rest to start a possible Game 7. Farrell said part of the decision being made 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, Buchholz wore down after throwing 62 pitches over five innings. In his third start, on Saturday, the problems popped up after 74 pitches and five innings.
Buchholz missed three months this season with a shoulder injury before returning in September and making four starts.
“I’ve got maybe one start left. This is where you want to throw it all on the line. That’s sort of how I’m looking at it right now,” Buchholz said. “I haven’t been 100 percent in a long time now.”
Buchholz also worked at an extraordinarily slow pace in Game 6 of the ALCS and made repeated pickoff throws to 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.”
Farrell also claimed the three-inning simulated game Doubront threw Tuesday was scheduled and not related to Buchholz’s questionable status.
It appeared the Red Sox were preparing Doubront in case he is needed to make a start.
Lefthander Matt Thornton, who is not on the playoff roster, threw Tuesday. If Buchholz is dropped from the roster, Thornton could be added.
Doubront has thrown only 3⅔ innings in the last month. Farrell said it’s uncertain how much he could pitch if he made a start at this point.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.