BOSTON - Even before Clay Buchholz makes his second minor league rehab start for Pawtucket Friday night, the Red Sox are committed to him making a third start at the minor league level before being activated and rejoining the major league rotation.
Buchholz, who threw 38 pitches in an abbreviated rehab appearance for Class A Lowell last Sunday, is expected to throw 50-55 pitches Friday for Triple-A Pawtucket.
His next outing would come next Wednesday, Sept. 4, and that, too, will be in the minors, likely for Pawtucket in an International League playoff setting.
"Everything right now point to him making that third start at the minor league level,'' said John Farrell, "to get him to that 65-70 pitch area. Normally, if it's any other point in the season, we'd like for him to get 85-90 [pitches], close to 100. But because we'll have extra arms in the bullpen [after the Sept. 1 roster expansion], we'll bring him back after that third outing.''
The third outing, the Sox decided, can't be taken lightly.
"He's going on three months missed,'' said Farrell. "There are certain things that we can't skip any steps with along the way. You
might say that three starts [in the minors] is fairly short. But knowing that we can come back with a four- or five-inning stint in his first time back here, we're covered.''
Mike Carp was in the original starting lineup at first base, but was scratched an hour before the game because of a sore left shoulder.
That forced some switches for the Sox. Daniel Nava, who was in the lineup in left field, was shifted to first to take over for Carp
and Jonny Gomes was inserted into the lineup in left.
Carp was considered day-to-day by the Sox.
David Ortiz went into Thursday night hitless in his past 18 at-bats, but remained in the lineup.
"He's gotten some pitches that he missed,'' said Farrell. "I think at times, he might get a little pull conscious. He's pulling off the ball at times, kind of making his swing a little bit long. I think more than anything, just maybe getting a little over-aggressive at times.
"But we've all seen that when he's been at his best is when he's driving the ball to left-center field. I know he's working on that right now.''
Farrell said Ortiz's lower back, which forced him out of a game in San Francisco last week, is no longer a factor.
"As far as the lower back afffecting his swing,'' Farrell said, "he's not indicated anything along those lines.''