Farrell mum on rotation once Buchholz returns

Farrell mum on rotation once Buchholz returns
August 12, 2013, 12:00 am
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KANSAS CITY – If and when – and the "if" remains as much an unknown as the "when" -- right-hander Clay Buchholz returns to the Red Sox rotation, the team will have to decide how to shuffle their starting pitchers.
 
Buchholz has not pitched since June 8, sidelined with what was ultimately diagnosed with inflammation of the bursa sac in his right elbow, a diagnosis confirmed by Dr. James Andrews.  He  has pitched from a mound twice since the All-Star break, Monday in Houston throwing 27 pitches, and Friday in Kansas City, with 40 pitches.  He had a light side session on Sunday with another planned for Tuesday after Monday’s offday.
 
After that, he could have a simulated game or another bullpen session at the end of the week. But, that won’t be known likely until Tuesday at the earliest, after he completes that day’s session. Buchholz, who will turn 29 on Wednesday, will likely need several rehab starts before he could be activated.  The minor league seasons will be wrapping up soon, though. All the Sox minor league teams’ regular seasons end on Sept. 2, except for Low-A Lowell, which ends on Sept. 4.
 
Buchholz could pitch in the postseason for a minor league team, if the Sox get teams into the playoffs. None is currently leading a division. Triple-A Pawtucket is three games out in the International League North, one game out of the wild card lead.  Double-A Portland is 17 ½ games out. High-A Salem is two games out, Single-A Greenville 5 ½ , and Lowell is a game out of both the division and the wild card.
 
But, if and when Buchholz does return, who gets bumped from the rotation? The Sox currently have a rotation of Ryan Dempster, Jon Lester, Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront, and John Lackey.  Only Dempster has spent any significant amount of time working out of the bullpen. He last worked out of the bullpen in 2007 in 66 appearances with the Cubs when he was 28-for-31 in save situations. His 90.3 percent save rate was the second-highest in a season for the Cubs, behind only Dempster’s 94.3 percent in 2005, when he converted 33 of 35.
 
Manager John Farrell, though, suggested Sunday that it might be more than one starter who goes to the pen. With four off-days in September before the end of the regular season, including two immediately before and after a two-game series in Colorado, the Sox might only need a four-man rotation for a certain stretch.
 
“We’ve kind of reserved [the decision],” Farrell said, “only because not knowing [Buchholz’s] exact return date, and then with the number of off days that we’re going to go through:  Who comes out of the rotation? Who goes to the pen? Do we have the ability with the number of off-days? Do we go to a four-man? Depending on where we’re at, there’s a lot of factors to include.”
 
Making it possible to send two starters to the bullpen. While that is a possibility, the likelihood is uncertain.
 
“When we go through Colorado [on Sept. 24 and 25] we’ve got two off-days in a span of four days,” Farrell said. “So do we bump one or two guys in that turn? There’s a lot of things to contend with that until we get there [remain unknown].”
 
If and when Buchholz returns, Farrell knows the role he wants for the right-hander.
 
“Yes, we want him to start,” Farrell said.
 
Asked if he had an idea in mind of who he might send to the bullpen, Farrell replied:
 
“I’m not telling you who it is, though.”