More than any other current Red Sox player, Clay Buchholz knows how injuries can derail a season.
After a stellar start to the season, Buchholz spent three months on the disabled list for a neck strain. His recovery seemed slow at points, and his comeback date was by delayed weeks at a time. He returned after an abbreviated rehab stint in September, and while he may not have returned to his ace-in-the-rotation position among the Red Sox’ arms, Buchholz has performed as a very capable No. 3 or 4 starter.
That abbreviated return may be the source of Buchholz’s current arm condition.
“You get ready to go in spring training and you get throwing ready off a mound and then you have the whole month and a half to throw and catch in games,” Buccholz told WEEI. “The secondary spring training for me was pretty much three rehab starts and then straight back into the mix. If there is a reason for velocity jumps and velocity drops, I think that would be the best reason for it.”
As for his current issues, Buchholz describes his arm problems more as “just a little bit of fatigue,” rather than something more serious.
“It’s nothing like [when] I had to take that long break during the season. It’s nothing to that extent,” he said. “When I got hurt during the season, I threw a pitch and said, ‘OK, I don’t think I can throw another one.’ Me feeling with this, I was in the second inning the other night and ended up going into the sixth. That’s my outlook on it.
“For me, taking a couple of days of getting treatment and rest and pumping the fluids and getting the anti-inflammatories in my system. My view right now is to be ready to pitch [in Game 4] on Sunday.”
Buchholz was originally slated to be the Sox’ Game 3 starter, but now it looks like Jake Peavy is slotted for the Saturday matchup, with Buchholz taking an extra day for rest and sliding to Game 4. That start will likely be Buchholz’s last of the season.
With a fatiguing arm, one hanging curve or misplaced changeup can spell disaster against a Cardinals lineup that resembles an American League roster with Allen Craig‘s return from injury. John Farrell, like most managers in the playoffs, has had a very short leash for early-inning miscues from his starters and — depending on the outcome of Games 2 and 3 — he may have to yank Buchholz if the righty is messy early.
Buchholz knows the stakes, not just for his team, but for himself, too.
“I’ve got maybe one start left, so this is where you want to throw it all on the line,” he said. “That’s sort of how I’m looking at it now. I haven’t been 100 percent for a long time now and pitched less than 100 percent for the last couple of months.
“What’s one more?”