Notes: Red Sox ready for quick homestand

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Notes: Red Sox ready for quick homestand

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Through the quirks of an unbalanced schedule, the Red Sox visit Fenway Park for a brief two-day, three-game "homestand" with the Rays, in the middle of what is essentially an 18-day road trip.

The fact that I didnt unpack, yeah, its weird and the doubleheader makes it more wacky, said manager Terry Francona. Thats just the way it is. Just like a long road trip . . . a little weird.

Because of a rainout on April 13, the Sox will play a day-night doubleheader Tuesday, the first game scheduled for 1:05 and the second game at 7:10. With Wednesdays game scheduled for 1:35 p.m., the Sox and Rays will play three games in about 27 or 28 hours. But those are just adjustments that have to be made.

I dont think you really have a choice, Francona said. I always notice thats when you see guys with sniffles, sometimes tight legs. I think thats probably understandable, but everybody goes through it. You kind of have your own stories and you talk to other teams and it happens to everybody. With the unbalanced schedule thats the way its going to be.

Whatever happens the night before you're supposed to show up and play baseball. If we dont win, I dont feel its going to be because we dont show up. Sometimes you just dont win.

Tickets for the April 13 rain-out will be honored for the first game today.

Mike Aviles will start at shortstop in the first game, his second start at that position since joining the Sox, with Marco Scutaro, whose back tightened up on the off day in Seattle, getting a rest.

Marcos backs tight still so thats that, Francona said. And really want Jed Lowrie to play against the lefty (David Price) tomorrow. So were looking at probably two out of three for him. So thats why were doing it. Somebodys going to play two. I think Mikes probably better suited right now.

Francona said Scutaro would be getting treatment on his back today.

Reliever Bobby Jenks, on the disabled list since July 8 with left back tightness, remains in Fort Myers at the Sox complex where he is scheduled to throw a side session today.

J.D. Drew, on the DL since July 20 with a left shoulder impingement, will take batting practice along with the rest of the team in the indoor cages. The Sox are not planning to take BP on the field while they are at Fenway today or tomorrow.

It doesnt matter with his shoulder because hell get the same amount of swings in the cage, just like being on the field, Francona said. Hell hit in the cage today just like everybody else. Same thing tomorrow. At some point he probably needs to play a little bit. Well get to that point when its appropriate. But were not there yet. The one thing hes been doing really well, hes been tracking balls in the outfield, hes been running. So hopefully when he does come back he wont have that initial five, six, seven days of soreness, almost like spring training.

This is the second doubleheader for the Sox this season. They split the first one in Detroit on May 29. According to Elias, the Sox all-time record in doubleheaders: they have swept 494, they split 827 splits, and they were swept 444 times, with one of the games ending in a tie 33 times.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

McAdam: Buchholz is the relief the Red Sox need

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This is the kind of season it has been for Clay Buchholz:

A little more than a month ago, he was merely taking up space on the Red Sox roster, having been summarily removed from the rotation after three months of poor outings.

He was in the bullpen, but the Sox were loathe to use him. Asked, memorably, why Buchholz hadn't been the choice to serve as a long reliever in a game in which the starter departed early, John Farrell candidly noted, in not so many words, that because the Sox still had a chance to win the game, Buchholz didn't make sense as an option.

Ouch.

But slowly, Buchholz became more effective in his new relief role. And when injuries struck the rotation, Buchholz got himself three cameo starts, during which he posted a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, topped by Tuesday's beauty -- 6 1/3 innings, one run allowed, nine strikeouts recorded.

Just as Buchholz has straightened out, however, Red Sox starters are suddenly stacked up like jets waiting for clearance to land at Logan Airport. Steven Wright returns from a brief DL stint Friday, and Eduardo Rodriguez is not far behind.

When he pitched poorly, the Red Sox didn't have any other options.

When he pitched well, the Red Sox have plenty of other choices.

So, now what?

"As far as Clay goes,'' said John Farrell, "this will be, I'm sure, a conversation (had) within (the organization). But setting that aside, he's throwing the ball exceptionally well right now.''

That's indisputable.

But the question remains: In what capacity will he throw the ball in the near future?

There's been a suggestion to keep Buchholz in the rotation while moving Drew Pomeranz to the bullpen. That would give the Sox a dependable lefty in relief -- as opposed to, say, Fernando Abad -- while also serving the dual purpose of putting a governor on Pomeranz's climbing innings total.

Pomeranz, who has plenty of bullpen experience in the big leagues, has also thrown 140 1/3 innings this season, eclipsing his previous major league high by nearly 40.

But Pomeranz is 27, not 21. He's shown no signs of fatigue. To the contrary, he's 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last four starts. The Sox shouldn't mess with his success.

Instead, Buchholz should become one of the team's high-leverage set-up weapons, available in the seventh or eighth inning.

True, Buchholz doesn't have the swing-and-miss capability you'd prefer to have in the eighth inning, where the fewer balls put in play, the better off you are. But he can get lefties and righties out, and, pitching out of the stretch full-time, he's greatly improved his command.

Buchholz would remain the best option for a spot start if one of the five Red Sox starters faltered or got hurt. But the bullpen remains the best choice for him.

Ironic, isn't it? When he pitched poorly, he remained in the rotation for several months. Now that he's pitching superbly, he can't earn a permanent spot.

It's been that kind of season.

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

McAdam: Will this be Clay Buchholz's last start?

With Wright and Rodriguez set to return, Sean McAdam joins SNC to discuss whether Tuesday’s game against the Rays will be the last start for Clay Buchholz.