John Farrell Still Envisions Clay Buchholz As Starter Despite Bullpen Demotion

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BOSTON — A fifth starter will be added to the Red Sox’s rotation Friday, and his name isn’t Clay Buchholz.

Manager John Farrell announced Tuesday the team will call up left-hander Roenis Elias from Triple-A Pawtucket to start against the Seattle Mariners. That, of course, isn’t the best news for Buchholz, who was demoted to the bullpen in late May and apparently will remain there for the near future.

Yet just because the 31-year-old right-hander lost out on the fifth starter job doesn’t mean he’s banished to the bullpen forever. Ahead of Wednesday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, Farrell said Buchholz still is a starter in his mind.

“I still view Clay as a starting pitcher, and yet, performance is going to dictate that,” Farrell said. “He was disappointed by not being inserted into the rotation this turn through, and I can respect that. But the reasons were given as to why.”

Those reasons likely involved his 2-5 record as a starter this season and the five or more runs he surrendered in six of his 10 starts.

Buchholz has looked better since joining the bullpen, pitching scoreless innings in his last two outings and holding opposing hitters to a .174 batting average. Farrell seemed pleased with how Buchholz is handling what isn’t exactly an ideal situation.

“I will say this: Since going to the bullpen, there’s every effort on his part being made to rectify the situation and perform to the best of his abilities when the opportunities come,” Farrell said. “And I give him credit for that. He’s a professional. You pitch your way in, you pitch your way out. He’s working through that right now.”

The Red Sox’s rotation is by no means set in stone. If Elias has a bad start and the matchup is favorable, Farrell could turn to Buchholz as the team’s next fifth starter. Joe Kelly, who is rehabbing from a groin strain suffered at Triple-A Pawtucket, also is a candidate to re-enter the rotation when he gets healthy.

Simply put, the final spot in Boston’s rotation will be awarded based on performance, and Buchholz still is very much in the mix despite the new role that he hopes is very temporary.

“You see the physical abilities, the pitch mix — he’s got the tools to start,” Farrell added. “And yet the consistency was not there. That’s why he’s in the bullpen. But I think there’s still abilities there to start.”

Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports Images

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