BOSTON (CBS) – Injured Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz played catch for the second straight day on Friday, but is still not ready to begin throwing off a mound.
Buchholz has been on the disabled list since June 17 with a muscle strain in his lower back. He thought it was going to be a simple trip to the DL, returning after his 15-days were up. But the injury has persisted, making for a slow road back. Buchholz does not want to return until all the pain in his back is gone, which is taking a lot longer than he thought it would.
“It sucks,” said Buchholz, who was 6-3 with a 6.48 ERA before the injury. “I want to be pitching, I want to help the team anyway I can. Me going out there, not 100-percent or not 80-percent, it’s not going to help the team any. If I rush back into it, it’ll be something that will be here for the rest of the season and I don’t want that.”
Buchholz said he played catch at half speed on Friday and felt better than he thought he would. After two days of catch, he is giving his arm a day of rest on Saturday but still do some core exercises. It is a slow process for the right-hander, one with no timetable for when he can begin throwing off a mound.
“Throwing has never been the issues, it’s been pitching off the mound. I don’t think I’m at that point yet, but (Friday) was a step in the right direction for sure,” said Buchholz.
Manager Terry Francona said the team will not put a timeline on Buchholz’ return, letting the pitcher make the call when he feels healthy enough.
“This one has been a little different. He was pitching with it for a while, pitching pretty effectively, then it started getting in the way,” said Francona. “We need him. We’d love to have him in the short-term but we really want him in the long-term.”
Read: Ortiz Appeals Suspension
“It’s something I don’t think I can rush in to or try to do more than I can in that particular day. It’s a muscle in my back and until that feels better I don’t think I’ll be able to really get off the mound,” said Buchholz.
Buchholz was given a cortisone shot earlier in the month that he said helped but the pain remained. He had hoped to begin throwing off the mound shortly after, but it still sounds like a ways away.
Afer a lengthy absence from game action, Buchholz will require some time in the minors. It could be as late as mid-August before the Red Sox get one of their top starters back.