Clay Buchholz, in. Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen, out.
So it goes.
As ridiculous as the timeframe seemed for Buchholz to finally return to the mound, looking sharp in Boston’s 2-0 win at Tampa Tuesday night, you have to admit, the results were more than encouraging as Boston hurtles toward the playoffs, a remarkable achievement considering the absence of its best pitcher for three months. Think about it; the Red Sox have an outside shot at winning 100 games (by going 12-4 down the stretch) for the first time in almost 70 years, and they did it without a guy who is now 10-0 on the season, the first Boston hurler to reach that mark to begin a season since Roger Clemens.
Improbable, maybe, but the Red Sox’ success only speaks to the depth general manager Ben Cherington created in making a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Mix in a little lucky magic with the likes of Koji Uehara, a chemistry led by newcomers David Ross and Jonny Gomes, and a complete change of culture a year after the Bobby Valentine disaster, and there’s no reason to doubt that the Sox have just as good a chance as anyone else of winning their third World Series in the last 10 seasons.
As for the Patriots…
To say Tom Brady will have his hands full against the New York Jets in Thursday night’s home opener at Gillette is a healthy understatement, considering that’s precisely what ails New England heading into Week 2. Amendola is probably not going to play, facing a groin injury that has to already be a concern for a guy who can’t seem to stay on the field, for whatever reasons. On Tuesday, the team placed running back Vereen, who took over in Sunday’s win after Blue Bonnet Stevan Ridley fumbled, on short-term injured reserve with an injured wrist. He’s gone at least eight games. And Rob Gronkowski’s continued absence means that Julian Edelman is the team’s No. 1 receiver heading into the game against the Jets.
To recap, they now have a backfield of Stevan Ridley (who was benched for fumbling), LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden and Leon Washington.
If Amendola doesn’t play, they’re down to Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater at wide receiver, along with rookies Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins.
To recap further…egads.
Look, the Patriots didn’t exactly light the world on fire in Game 1 against the Bills, but that’s not exactly panic time either based on this team’s resume of getting things together as the season progresses. But they’re a last-second kick from being 0-1, and a decimated corps away from possibly starting the season 0-2. And Wes Welker is only on pace for a 32-touchdown season in Denver.
That, of course, is not going to happen, just as it’s hard to see these Patriots collapsing despite the personnel questions.
There were injury concerns all along, so the fact that they’re rearing their collective heads not even a full week into the season has to be concerning for the time being. Nobody is questioning Amendola’s toughness after what he delivered on Sunday. But it’s already three days later and he’s probably not going to see the field for another week. At what point is a pattern simply a pattern?
But while Buchholz delivered confidence in his return, the Patriots are starting their campaign on the shaky feet that the dubious among us thought that they could.
It won’t always be this way, but watch out for the Jets. They may be getting the Patriots with a major vulnerability.