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Wakefield to DL; Buchholz recalled

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  July 21, 2009 04:56 PM

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ARLINGTON, Tex. -- The Red Sox have placed knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on the disabled list with a lower back strain and recalled righthander Clay Buchholz from Pawtucket.

Buchholz is with the club in Arlington and will start tomorrow.

“Any day in the big leagues is a better day than in the minor leagues,” Buchholz said. “I’m happy to be here. I’ll go after them tomorrow and see what happens.”

According to Red Sox manager Terry Francona, Wakefield, who has an 11-3 record and a 4.31 ERA this season, suffered the injury during a side session Saturday. The DL stint is retroactive to July 18.

Wakefield, 42, has pitched with the effects of a SLAP tear in his shoulder for the past two seasons. In each of the last two playoffs, wear and tear either shelved him or limited his effectiveness. Manager Terry Francona relied on Wakefield to devour innings in both seasons and never could find him a midseason rest. Now, with his ailing back, Francona believes the DL time could be a blessing in disguise.

"I think we're going to try to make it be good," Francona said. "We don't want him to be hurt like this. Both years the last couple years, things have happened and it's ended his season. Rather than try to push a start -- that didn't make much sense. We'll try to use this to our advantage. Hopefully this can be a weak where he can strengthen his shoulder."

The 42-year-old, who made his first All-Star team this season, has not pitched since July 8 against Oakland, but that was no cause for alarm since the All-Star break allowed for some extra rest.

Buchholz pitched very well in his first big league start of the season Friday, the Red Sox' first game after the break. He allowed 4 hits and 1 earned run in 5.2 innings in a 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays. He walked three and struck out three.

“The first one of the season, after last year and all the expectations of last year, I was pretty nervous about it,” Buchholz said. “Now that I got that one under my belt, go out there and just try to command the zone. I feel really comfortable right now with the whole situation. .It was a little odd situation, but everything has a way of working itself out.”

Buchholz, 24, had been recalled from Pawtucket, where he has been sensational for much of the season (7-2, 2.36 ERA), ostensibly to give the Red Sox' rotation an extra day of rest coming out of the All-Star break. He was sent back down after the game. Afterward, he shook hands with some teammates and told them, "Hopefully I'll see you soon."

"I didn't think it was going to be this soon," Buchholz said.

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