Buchholz unsure when he will return

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Buchholz unsure when he will return

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Clay Buchholz, who hasn't appeared in a game since the Red Sox were last at Tropicana Field in mid-June, is unsure when he'll be activated and return to the mound.

Buchholz, sidelined by lower back spasms and soreness, played long toss Friday afternoon, but felt some soreness as a result when he came to the ballpark Saturday morning.

"I threw (Friday) and felt better than I expected to," said Buchholz. "I came in a little sore today just from the fact I hadn't really done much in the last three weeks. I'll take today off from throwing, just do some core strengthening and back exercises and then get after it again tomorrow."

The Sox are getting Josh Beckett (hyper-extended knee) back Sunday night and project that Jon Lester (lat muscle) will return when the Sox get back to Fenway next week.

But for now, it's impossible to determine when Buchholz might come back.

"I don't think there's really a timeline," he said. "From the doctors that I've seen, it's basically just going to be a feel thing, when it feels alright to take the mound, that's when I'll do it. It's something that I don't think I can really rush into or try to do more than I can on that particular day just for the fact that it's a muscle in my back. Until it feels better, I don't think I'll be able to really get off the mound."

"There is no schedule," confirmed Terry Francona. "It's all how he feels. Friday he felt better than he thought he was going to after the layoff and the plane ride and everything. It's all dependent on how he feels because if there's a schedule that has a chance to mess him up.

"He has to be able to go out and pitch every five days and have it not get in the way. We're just trying to use good judgment. I don't know if anybody is 100 percent this time of the year."

With 2 12 months to go and the playoff race intensifying, it's difficult for Buchholz to be sidelined.

"Yeah, it sucks," he said. "Obviously I want to be pitching, I want to help the team in any way I can. Me going out there not 100 percent, or not 80 percent, I don't think is going to help the team any. I think if I rush back into it, it will be something that will be here for the rest of the season and I don't want that.

"I'd rather be ready to pitch at 100 percent and I feel like that's the way that I can help this team win...It's been tough for me just for the fact that I thought it was going to be a 15-day stint and be over and done with and it hasn't been that. That's all I've got right now."

The week before the All-Star break, Buchholz visited a back specialist who confirmed that there wasn't nothing structurally wrong with the back. He also received a cortisone shot at the time.

"Yeah, it's helped," Buchholz said of the shot. "But at the same time, I can still feel something back there. My whole outlook on it was to let it be 100 percent before I came back and it's just taking a little bit longer than I wanted it to."

When Buchholz played long toss, he didn't feel any discomfort. Then again, the issue has never been about throwing; it's more the discomfort he feels in his back when he throws off the mound.

"I don't think I'm at that point yet (to resume throwing off a mound)," said Buchholz, "but (Friday) was a step in the right direction for sure."

"We need him and we would love to have him in the short term," concluded Francona, "but we really want him in the long term. We're trying to use good judgment."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

Sandoval’s offseason transformation doesn't guarantee he's Sox starting third baseman

BOSTON - The weight room, as much as Instagram, has been Pablo Sandoval’s home in the offseason leading up to the 2017 season.

His change in diet and routine have clearly led to visible results, at least in terms of appearance. His play is yet to be determined. But his manager and teammates have taken notice.

“Compliments to Pablo,” John Farrell told reporters before Thursday’s BBWAA dinner. “He’s done a great job with the work that he’s put in, the commitment he’s made. He’s reshaped himself, that’s apparent. He knows there’s work to be done to regain an everyday job at third base. So, we’ll see how that unfolds. We’re not looking for him to be someone he’s not been in the past. Return to that level of performance.”

Farrell noted that Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge are the other two players in contention for time at third base and while others, such as prospect Rafael Devers, may get time there in the spring, those are the only three expected to compete for the job.

“The beauty of last spring is that there’s a note of competition in camp,” Farrell said. “And that was born out of third base last year [when Travis Shaw beat out Sandoval at the third base]. That won’t change.”

Sandoval's 2016 season ended after shoulder surgery in April. 

While the manager has to be cautiously optimistic, Sandoval’s teammates can afford to get their hopes up.

“Pablo is definitely going to bounce back,” Xander Bogaerts told CSNNE.com “Especially with the weight he’s lost and the motivation he has to prove a lot of people wrong, to prove the fans wrong.

“He’s been a great player for his whole career. He’s not a bad player based on one year. Playing in Boston the first year is tough, so, hopefully this year he’ll be better.”

Prior to Sandoval’s abysmal 2015, his first season in Boston, when he hit .245 with 47 RBI in 126 games, the 2012 World Series MVP was a career .294 hitter who averaged 15 home runs and 66 RBI a year.

If Bogaerts is right and Sandoval can be that player again, that will be a huge lift in filling in the gap David Ortiz left in Boston’s offense.