Clay Buchholz: 'I'm going to go as quick as I can'

Mike Petraglia
July 23, 2013 - 2:18 pm
Clay Buchholz wants Red Sox fans to know he's doing his best to come back from a strained right shoulder. The right-handed Red Sox starter opened the season 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA and was in the midst of his best season to date. Now, he disclosed on Tuesday, he'll be lucky to make four or five more starts before the end of the season. "There's no timeline on it," Buchholz said of his rehab progress. "I'm going to go as quick as I can at the comfort level they told me to go at." Buchholz met with renown orthopedic specialist James Andrews on Monday in Pensacola, Fla. "His one thing was when I'm at 90 feet and I can throw hard, let a ball go and throw as hard as I want to and be OK with it, that's when the light comes on and we can start going off the mound easy, and then get back into flat-ground, sim game and rehab," Buchholz said. "He said you can either make four or five starts in the last half of the season and hopefully, if we're lucky enough to go to the playoffs, pitch in the playoffs or do it wrong and not pitch at all." Red Sox manager John Farrell said the team won't do anything to rush Buchholz back if he's not comfortable. "The one that has been consistent throughout this is we've to progress as Clay has tolerated," Farrell said before Tuesday's game. "That won't change. What we're looking to achieve first is that he throws aggressively off flat ground and at 90 feet before we would incorporate the angle of the mound. That's why when questions were asked [Monday after Dr. Andrews visit], it's kind of hard to pinpoint that. So, we look at this in phases. The re-conditioning and the strength gains from a throwing standpoint to then incorporating the mound to incorporating ups and downs through a simulated game and then ultimately rehab starts. But this will all be determined on Clay's tolerance and the increase in intensity. "I think that's just another way of saying we don't have an exact date. We have to keep Clay's health first and foremost, which has been the case all throughout this. That won't change. Whatever time is needed, Clay is going to return to us when he's ready." As for the specifics, Buchholz said he learned a lot about his shoulder that he didn't know going into the meeting. "Overall, a good thing. Obviously, the non-structural [result] was good. [No] surgery, and I anticipated that. Definitely had a strain in there. The strength in my shoulder is as good as it's ever been, really. That's one of the things he said that I didn't really know until that point was you could have a shoulder strain and have the strength be 100 percent. So, it's all in the throwing motion. Probably partly my fault because I wanted to come back more than anyone wants me to be back. "I've been probably been pushing myself too much and that's the problem I've been running into. I'd feel really good for a day, two or three, and then try to [pitch] off the mound and there would be a re-strain and start from square one again. That's what I've been doing for a month and a half and it's been miserable." What Buchholz said he gained most of all was a piece of mind. "Just hearing it from him and knowing what I have to do now to move forward, hopefully, how he sounded, it's not going to take much longer," he said. "It's just got to be a steady diet of the same thing every day, not any more, not any less until you're comfortable with something and then maybe add a little bit to it. "Definitely bursa sac strain. That could come from different areas. But arm looks good, labrum looks good. He actually said being 28 and throwing as many pitches over my lifetime, the shoulder actually looks a lot better than they would expect. That's definitely good news to hear for me. That takes some weight off my shoulders. I still have to get back to getting off the mound and that's sort of the progression he gave. Buchholz is more than aware of the perception that he's not doing enough to get back and even joked with reporters about how much information is out there right now on his condition. "You guys will know before I even go out there on the field," Buchholz joked. "That's how you guys [media] work." Buchholz also made a point that there would be no sense in rushing back to games if he can't even go 100 percent in his bullpen sessions. "The last couple of bullpens I've tried, it wouldn't be fun for me to go out and pitch the way it felt, and that was going at a 70 percent bullpen. I don't want to imagine what it would feel like at 100 percent."