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Red Sox notebook

Buchholz hopes to pitch in

Injury is not seen as a season-ender

It took an all-out effort by Jarrod Saltalamacchia to slide around the tag of catcher Carlos Santana to win it in the ninth. It took an all-out effort by Jarrod Saltalamacchia to slide around the tag of catcher Carlos Santana to win it in the ninth. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / August 3, 2011

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When Clay Buchholz met Monday with Dr. Robert Watkins to have his aching back examined, the Red Sox pitcher was put at ease in the office of the Los Angeles-based specialist when he saw the jerseys of other professional athletes who had sought treatment from Watkins hanging on the walls.

Josh Hamilton’s jersey was there, a bunch of football players, Eli Manning,’’ said Buchholz. “You see all the stuff that was there and how positive they were after the fact he diagnosed them and they were back on the field and better, and that’s all I really needed to see.’’

Watkins told the righthander he had a stress fracture of his L2 (lumbar) vertebrae, a diagnosis confirmed yesterday by Sox team doctor Thomas Gill.

While that news was sobering, Buchholz said he was encouraged when Watkins informed him the injury not only wouldn’t jeopardize his career, but was not even season-ending.

“All along, they knew something was there,’’ said Buchholz, who had been on the 15-day disabled list since June 17 and was transferred to the 60-day DL Sunday.

“So it’s good to go to a guy like him and be so forward with it and say it’s not even a career-ending thing or a season-ending thing for me,’’ Buchholz said. “That’s definitely a sigh of relief, knowing that it’s almost been two months. But at least I know it’s something there.’’

Manager Terry Francona said “the season is not ruled out’’ for Buchholz but the pitcher will have to complete a five-step rehabilitation program.

“When complete, Clay is clear to throw,’’ the manager said. “There is not a time frame. It’s all in when he heals.’’

Francona said arrangements were made to send Buchholz to see Watkins after he didn’t respond favorably to a 30-pitch bullpen session last Monday.

“He threw so well and we all got excited, myself included,’’ Francona said. “He didn’t recover well.

“He actually wanted to go pitch, and we were like, ‘Whoa, slow down,’ and I’m glad we did. We got him looked at. It showed that it was potentially a stress fracture. We sent him to Dr. Watkins, he confirmed it, and we needed to slow down.

“That’s happening three or four days before the trade deadline and, in all honesty, you didn’t want to handcuff [general manager] Theo [Epstein]. That’s unfair to him.’’

Gill insisted that Buchholz’s bullpen session was “absolutely not going to cause a fracture,’’ he said.

“Clay didn’t have any symptoms when he was throwing,’’ Gill said. “I want to reiterate that. It does not hurt him right now to throw, but it gets him the next day, which, to me, is a red flag to say we need to harness him or rein him in a little bit.’’

It remains to be seen how long it will take Buchholz to return.

“If I can be back earlier, I’m going to do everything I can to come back and help this team,’’ said Buchholz. “But I want to be healthy doing it. I don’t want to go out there and pitch one game and get thrown back on the DL.

“If there was a timetable, I think the postseason is where I’d want to come back. I think that makes the most sense to me as far as being able to help this club out.’’

Scutaro is OK Shortstop Marco Scutaro, who departed in the fourth inning of Monday night’s 9-6 loss to the Indians because of dizziness and an elevated heart rate, was examined further yesterday and checked out fine.

Although Scutaro was available last night, Francona gave Mike Aviles, recently acquired from the Royals, the start at shortstop.

“I think he was a little bit perturbed we made him go get tested,’’ said Francona. “But when they start mentioning heart stuff, there’s no way we can send him out there.’’

Scutaro confirmed he had been medically cleared, saying this was an episode he had never experienced before.

“I guess it was one of those energy drinks I had before the game,’’ he said.

Getting to know you Lefthander Erik Bedard reported to the Sox yesterday, met with the media, and began the process of settling in with his new club after getting traded from Seattle at the trade deadline Sunday.

Asked about his clubhouse reception, the 32-year-old replied, “Good. They’re all new guys. I only know [John] Lackey and [Darnell] McDonald, [whom] I played with in Double A. So it’ll take time to get to know everybody and, hopefully, I don’t screw up any names.’’

To make room for Bedard on the roster, the Sox optioned infielder/outfielder Drew Sutton to Pawtucket.

Lowrie progressing Jed Lowrie made his second rehab stint at Pawtucket yesterday, going 1 for 3 as the designated hitter in a 4-3 victory over Louisville at McCoy Stadium. “He’ll report to us [today] and have a workout and then he’ll go back and get a little more stretched out on Thursday,’’ Francona said. “The one thing we have to do to get him a little more acclimated is get him to play a nine-inning game. It doesn’t have to be Thursday but we’ll see. It looks good.’’

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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