Clay Buchholz’s long-awaited return appears to be just days away.
Buchholz made what is expected to be his final rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday, and the right-hander came away from the outing feeling like he’s ready to rejoin the Red Sox.
“Everything went really smooth,” Buchholz told reporters in Rochester, N.Y. “It was sort of a rush, but everything was good. I’m ready to get back up there [to Boston].”
Buchholz threw 71 pitches (52 strikes) in 3 2/3 innings for the PawSox, who evened their best-of-five playoff series against Rochester at a game apiece with a 7-2 victory. He gave up two runs on four hits while striking out five and walking two. Reports indicate that his fastball topped out at 92-93 mph.
Thursday’s rehab start, which was Buchholz’s second with Pawtucket and third overall, appeared to be the final hurdle. Buchholz worked with a 75-pitch limit, but he told reporters after the game that he could have continued to pitch if the situation called for it.
“I’d have liked to have gotten up and down a few more times for innings,” Buchholz said. “The pitch count wouldn’t allow me to do that. I felt like I could have thrown as many pitches as they would have wanted me to.”
While the results weren’t perfect, the important thing is that Buchholz feels like he doesn’t have any more restrictions. The righty was forced to shake off some rust during his first two rehab appearances, but Thursday’s outing featured his entire repertoire.
“I threw all my pitches,” Buchholz told reporters. “Whenever I reach back and try to throw something, I know it’s going to be there. It’s all about how the ball is moving out of my hand, and the release point.”
No official announcement has been made regarding Buchholz’s impending return, but John Farrell said before the Red Sox’ game in New York on Thursday that someone will be removed from Boston’s rotation to make room for Buchholz. It could be Ryan Dempster, who started Wednesday’s game against the Tigers.
It’s been a long road back for Buchholz, who last pitched in the majors on June 8 due to discomfort in his neck and collarbone area. He said that he feels like he’s finally healthy, though, and he should give the Red Sox’ rotation an added boost down the stretch if that’s the case.
“I know that if I go out there and I’m not me then I’m not helping the team win,” Buchholz said. “I feel like I’m past that now, and these last two outings have sort of proven that.”
Buchholz was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 12 big league starts before landing on the disabled list.