Clay Buchholz Struggles in Rehab Start With Single-A Lowell, Clearly Still Shaking Off Rust

Clay BuchholzThe Red Sox could certainly use Clay Buchholz. Just not this version.

Buchholz, who hasn’t pitched in a big league game since June 8, made a rehab start for Single-A Lowell on Sunday, and he flopped big time. The right-hander needed 38 pitches to record just two outs. He gave up one hit and issued three walks while facing seven batters, and Buchholz admitted after the game that he was rusty.

“Oh, no. I could definitely use [another rehab start]. I feel like I hadn’t pitched in two and a half months,” Buchholz told reporters. “It’s an art. If you don’t do it for an extended period of time, you feel awkward doing it. Facing batters in game situations is completely different than facing the guys on my team. I think one more would do it if I can get up and down enough times. Obviously, I’ve got to find the strike zone a little bit more often. But I think that will come.”

Buchholz threw 19 strikes and 19 balls Sunday. The Hudson Valley Renegades scored three runs off him, although only one was earned because of three first-inning errors by the Spinners. Buchholz struck out one, yet didn’t record any swing-and-misses while reportedly sitting at around 88-90 mph with his fastball. Buchholz said that he felt fine physically, though, and the outing was clearly more about getting the pitcher into a live game and giving him an opportunity to improve mechanically before taking the next step.

“I felt good. That was my only concern of coming out here and pitching,” Buchholz said. “Physically, I felt fine — sort of did the same thing as I’ve been doing in the [simulated] games and bullpens, eased myself into it. And then there towards the end, I felt like everything was free still. I wasn’t trying to throw as hard as I could. I was basically trying to find the zone. I was up a little bit. But I think I sort of got what I needed to. I hadn’t thrown 40 pitches together through all this stuff, so I think that was something I needed to do.”

Buchholz is likely in line for another rehab start or two — exactly where remains to be seen — before returning to major league action. The Red Sox are certainly hoping that he looks sharper his next time out, even if Sunday’s start was a step forward from a physical standpoint.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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