BOSTON (CBS) – Clay Buchholz made his long-awaited return to the mound, but he was far from the Red Sox ace that started the season 9-0.

Buchholz, who has been sidelined for the last two and a half months with a right shoulder strain, toed the rubber for the Lowell Spinners against the Hudson Valley Renegades on Sunday. But the Boston starter didn’t make it out of the first inning, retiring just two of the seven batters he faced in his 38-pitch outing.

Buchholz allowed just one earned run, but the Renegades scored three runs off one hit and three walks. Buchholz did strike out one batter, throwing 19 strikes and 19 balls over his 2/3rds or an inning.

The Sox pitcher didn’t get much help in the field, as the first batter he faced scored on a pair of two-base errors on left fielder Kevin Mager. Buchholz walked the next batter then surrendered an RBI triple to Arial Soriano, who scored on a throwing error. After retiring the next two, Buchholz walked the final two batters he faced before being removed.

The plan was to have Buchholz throw 45 to 50 pitches on Sunday, but the team did not want to push him after a strenuous first inning. But while the results were mixed, the most important takeaway from Sunday’s outing  was Buchholz is feeling OK after taking the mound for the first time since June 8.

“Long inning, 38 pitches,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Boston’s 8-1 win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles. “His velocity was in the upper 80’s. He came out of it physically fine, which is the biggest thing.”

“I felt good. That was my only concern coming down here to pitch,” Buchholz said via to the team’s website. “Physically, I felt fine today and that’s what I wanted.”

“Everything was there and I didn’t feel anything on any one type of pitch, so that was definitely a good thing,” he said. “But there wasn’t one pitch where I said, ‘OK, I’m going to try to throw this one hard.’ I was basically just trying to go through the motions, find myself mechanically and try to let the pitch come out of my hand.”

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Farrell said the team will figure out when Buchholz will pitch next on Monday, but it’s expected he’ll go on Friday for either Triple-A Pawtucket or Double-A Portland.

“I can definitely use another one. I feel like I hadn’t pitched in two and a half months,” Buchholz said. “It’s an art. If you don’t do it for an extended period of time, you feel awkward doing it. Facing batters in a game situation is completely different than facing the guys on my team in my [simulated-game] situations. I think one more could do it if I can get up and down enough times.”

If Buchholz looks good in his next start, it’s possible the righty could return to the Boston rotation for their series against the Detroit Tigers next week at Fenway Park.


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