Boston Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz Could Return Before End of 2011 Season

Jeffrey BrownAnalyst IAugust 2, 2011

ST PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 16:  Pitcher Clay Buchholz #11 of the Boston Red Sox pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on June 16, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The rumors of Boston Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz’ demise were greatly exaggerated…or at least very premature. Throughout the day yesterday, Red Sox-centric and Boston-area media outlets rushed to judgment in an effort to outdo one another in “breaking” the news Buchholz was “likely done” for the 2011 season…problem is, that declaration very likely could have been wrong.

The prognosis seemed VERY premature to me, considering the fact that New York Mets third baseman David Wright, who plays defense in the field every day and who suffered from the same stress fracture this season, has been able to return to baseball over the course of the last few days.

I had to ask: If Wright can take the field daily, why can’t Buchholz return to the mound before the end of the season? After all, Wright returned to action after two months, while Buchholz has already been out for almost two months. (He was placed on the DL on June 19th, retroactive to June 17th.) And with two months remaining in the season, it seems reasonable to expect there is at least a 50-50 chance he will get back on the bump.

Certainly, nothing is assured…but there is nothing “likely” about his season being over.

This afternoon, manager Terry Francona said: “(His) symptoms are improving. (The) injury is stable. It’s going to heal on its own. Clay will follow a five-step structured rehab program which will progress as his symptoms allow. When complete, Clay is cleared to throw. Currently, there is no time frame for his return. It’s all when he heals. The season has not been ruled out.”

Tito admitted the club held off on revealing Buchholz’ diagnosis to the media. General manager Theo Epstein wouldn’t be placed between a rock and a hard place as the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline approached…and while he is happy to have newly-acquired Erik Bedard on board, he would surely love to see his young right-hander back on the mound, “It hasn’t been ruled out… We don’t know (what’s going to happen). If you see him pitch, he’s OK.”

Buchholz spoke with the media a short time later.

He said last week’s MRI was the first he has had on an area other than his arm or shoulder. He said he first felt the discomfort last season, but he was able to pitch through it…it got progressively worse this season until he suffered the reaction during his last start on June 17th.

He is relieved to know the genesis of the problem and his prognosis moving forward, “All along they knew something was there, so it was good to go see (Dr. Watkins) and have him be so forward with it and say that it’s not a career-threatening thing and not even a season-ending thing for me, so that’s definitely a sigh of relief. It has almost been two months and at least I know something’s there and I’m not just a big wuss.”