Clay Buchholz felt good after his rehab start for Class A Lowell on Sunday. So good, in fact, that the Red Sox felt confident enough to make his next rehab start on Friday at either Double-A Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket.
As reported by Jason Mastrodonato of MLB.com, the rehab start on Friday could be the last for Buchholz before returning to the Red Sox rotation. But since he hasn't pitched since June 8 and threw only 38 pitches on Sunday, an extra start after Friday may be necessary to make sure Buchholz is ready to return.
The Red Sox would like Buchholz to increase the number of pitches on Friday to around 55. He also could use another bullpen session or two with hitters standing in, but that is not the same as pitching in a live game situation. The key is to have Buchholz do anything to get him back into his comfort zone and prepare him to face Major League hitters in a live game.
"I can definitely use another one," Buchholz said after his outing
Sunday. "I feel like I hadn't pitched in two and a half months. It's an
art. If you don't do it for an extended period of time, you feel awkward
doing it. Facing batters in a game situation is completely different
than facing the guys on my team in my [simulated-game] situations. I
think one more could do it if I can get up and down enough times."
Buchholz was having a career season before the injury. In 12 starts, he was 9-0 with a 1.71 earned run average. He allowed only 57 hits and two home runs in 84 1/3 innings, while striking out 81. In 119 career games, Buchholz is 55-32 with a 3.66 earned run average in 720 2/3 innings pitched.