PHILADELPHIA — Clay Buchholz is eligible to come off the disabled list on Saturday. But it could be well after that before he pitches for the Red Sox again.
“I can still feel it,” said Buchholz, who is out with a lower back strain. “I don’t want to pitch until it’s 100 percent out of there.”
The initial plan was for Buchholz to pitch against Toronto on July 4. Pitching in that series remains a possibility, but the Red Sox are going to take a conservative approach.
“I don’t know,” Terry Francona said when asked when Buchholz will pitch. “We’re going to be really careful with him, obviously. He’s improving, which is good. It’s not all the way. I can tell you he’s not going to pitch until we’re comfortable that he can go out and handle it. We’ll just continue to monitor that.
“He’s not going to pitch in Houston. We’ll see how it does when we go back off this trip, see where he’s at.”
Buchholz threw a side session on Monday. But his ability to go deep into a game and not feel his back is a concern.
“We don’t want him to make a start or two and go back where he was,” Francona said. “We’re going to sit on him pretty tight.”
Further complicating the issue is the longer Buchholz is out, the more necessary it becomes for him to make at least minor-league rehab start. He has not pitched since June 16.
“I think if we get beyond that Toronto series, I’d probably have to go pitch a few innings somewhere before coming back,” he said. “It’s hard to go that long without facing hitters.”
Carl Crawford, who is out with a strained left hamstring, did some jogging today. He went back and fourth six times for 90 feet at 50 percent of his usual speed. Crawford is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday.
“I don’t know how realistic that is,” Francona said. “I guarantee, when you see him, he’s OK.”