BOSTON — Clay Buchholz’s health status is a little clearer — but not too much.
An MRI revealed that Buchholz, who hasn’t pitched since June 8, has no structural damage in his shoulder. Buchholz does have inflammation in the bursa sac of his right shoulder, though, and he’ll be shut down for a few days before resuming a throwing program.
“As I mentioned yesterday, he had two good work days with more intense throwing so there’s small amounts of improvement,” manager John Farrell said before Thursday’s game. “But yet we’ve got to take a little bit of a step back here before we pick it back up again.”
Buchholz has only pitched twice since May 22. He has dealt with an AC joint issue and a strained trapezius muscle, and the right-hander now feels discomfort at the end of his delivery while throwing off a mound.
“He’s felt it more as he decelerates or as he follows through,” Farrell said. “It wasn’t at the point of any acceleration or when his arm was traveling through his arm slot prior to release. It’s always been after the release and that’s why as the intensity increased, the more you’re having to put the brakes on. And that’s where he was feeling the discomfort or not feeling like it was ready to ramp up to full game speed. So that’s the sensation he’s described to me.”
Farrell noted that both the increased intensity of throwing off a mound and the angle of the mound likely play a factor in Buchholz feeling discomfort. Since there is no structural damage, however, Buchholz should be able to resume throwing once his current inflammation dies down.
“I think we’re hopeful sometime on the weekend that he’ll put a ball back in his hand and then we’ll take him through more gradual steps,” Farrell said. “In the past, we’ve kind of reacted to how he felt on a given day. … There will be more structure as far as number of throws and prescribed distances just so we can track it more regularly in advance of getting back on the mound.”
Farrell said that he is encouraged by the consistency of Buchholz’s MRIs. But the skipper admitted that some frustration has set in for Buchholz, who is 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 12 starts this season.
“Absolutely. He’s a fierce competitor and wants to be on the mound, and as well as he’s been pitching this year, I think everybody in our organization wants him on the mound,” Farrell said. “The start and stop and the hanging on to the incremental improvements that were taking place, and he feeling like it was getting closer and then a step back, yeah, there’s some frustration there. But I think coming out of yesterday, there’s a lot more peace of mind knowing that there’s nothing structurally going on in here and it looks to be something that will be dealt with in the very near term.”
Farrell didn’t rule out Buchholz returning before the All-Star break, although no official timetable has been set.