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

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

Quotes, notes and stars: Porcello 'the model of consistency'

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays

 

QUOTES:

"Rick has been the model of consistency.'' - John Farrell on starter Rick Porcello

"It means that we have a heck of a team, really. The runs we put up, and I don't think anybody talks about our defense.'' - Porcello, asked about the significance of being baseball's first 18-game winner.

"It's cool to be a part of that, but we're in a race right now and that's way more important.'' - Mookie Betts on the crowd chants of "MVP!" during his at-bat.

 

NOTES

* Hanley Ramirez has nine extra-base hit in the last 15 games.

* Opposing baserunners have stolen only 54 percent of the time when Sandy Leon is behind the plate, the lowest figure for any Red Sox catcher (minimum 20 games) since 1987

* Brock Holt tied a season high with three hits, including two with two outs and runners in scoring position.

* Mookie Betts set a career high with 72 extra-base hits.

* Betts became the third player in franchise history to have a 30-homer season before the age of 24. Ted Williams and Tony Conigliaro are the others.

* Betts has five homers and 13 RBI in his last five home games.

* Rick Porcello is just the fifth major league pitcher since 1913 to begin a season 13-0 at home

* Porcello is the third Red Sox pitcher to win 18 of his first 21 decisions after Cy Young (1902) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2008)

* David Ortiz leads the majors in doubles, slugging percentage and OPS.

 

STARS:

1) Rick Porcello

The righthander became the first 18-game winner in the big leagues and he did it by supplying seven innings for the sixth straight start while improving to 13-0 at home.

2) Mookie Betts

Betts gave the Red Sox an early lead with his 30th homer of the year, becoming the third player in franchise history to reach that milestone before the age of 24.

3) Travis Shaw

Shaw broke out of a month-long slump with a three-hit game, including a double, to go along with two RBI.

 

First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

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First impressions: Porcello settles in, helps Red Sox beat Rays, 9-4

First impressions from the Red Sox' 9-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays:

 

* Rick Porcello followed form.

Porcello has, throughout the season, struggled some in the early innings before making some adjustments and stabilizing as the game wears on.

So it was Monday night against the Rays.

Coming into the start, Porcello had compiled a 4.15 ERA in the first three innings with a 2.13 ERA in innings four through six.

Sure enough, Porcello allowed four straight hits and two runs in the third inning. After that, he looked like a different pitcher. He did yield a solo run in the fifth when he gave up a leadoff double and two groundouts.

But from the fourth through the seventh, he faced 13 hitters and retired 12 of them, including five by strikeout.

 

* Travis Shaw showed signs of digging out his funk at the plate.

Shaw was 0-for-6 to start the homestand, and since the beginning of August, had compiled an anemic .141/.236/.264 slash line with only four extra-base hits (two doubles, two doubles).

That resulted in Shaw losing playing time to Aaron Hill at third, and being dropped lower in the batting order.

But Monday, Shaw smacked a double to right -- the kind of extra-base power that he almost routinely flashed in the first half -- and later added two singles for a three-hit night.

It marked the first multi-hit game for him since July 26, better than a month ago.

 

* Lo and behold, the Red Sox can collect hits with the bases loaded.

The team's struggles in that department have been well-chronicled. Coming into the night, the Sox were hitting just .211 in such situations, ranking them 14th out of the 15 A.L. teams.

Time after time, the Sox have failed to come through with the bases full, sometimes even with no outs.

But that wasn't the case Monday. Twice, in fact, the Sox had innings with the bases loaded and both times, they scored.

In the second, Brock Holt's single to left scored Chris Young, though Sandy Leon was cut down at the plate when the Sox tried to get two runs out of it.

In the seventh, a sharp single to center by Sandy Leon scored two more.