BALTIMORE — Clay Buchholz has been activated off the disabled and will be in the bullpen tonight
He said he is not an option to start tomorrow.
“I don’t think they’d let me [start] in the sense that I would only be able to go an inning or so, a couple of innings, maybe,” Buchholz said. “If I got off to a bad start, that wouldn’t be good for the team. I don’t think so.”
Buchholz has not appeared in a major league game since June 16 because of a back injury. He threw one inning in an Instructional League game on Monday. He threw 18 pitches that day. His most strenuous bullpen session — 40 pitches — came last week.
“I feel like my pitches are there and my arm feels good,” Buchholz said. “Obviously, I’m not going to be starting. I’ll probably be sent out to the bullpen, and if a situation arises where I can get in the game, we’ll go from there.”
Said Terry Francona: “We were going to send him down to the Instructional League and I think we kind of got together and thought, ‘Well, with the way things have gone, we’ve proven we can play 14, 15-inning games.’ If we’re fortunate enough to have a blowout, we’d love to pitch him. If we ever got into a situation where he can be a wild card, knowing there’s a lot there unproven now. So we figured keep him here.”
Francona said Buchholz could pitch, “an inning or two.”
Buchholz has appeared in relief twice in the regular season (in 2007 and ’08) and never in the postseason. The 27-year-old was 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 16 starts this season before he went down.
“I think coming out of the bullpen the difference is you have to come in throwing strikes,” Buchholz said. “You can’t nibble like you could if you were starting and trying to set up the hitter for the next at-bat. You might only face the guy one time. Your job is to come in and get him out. I don’t think it really matters how you do it.”
Buchholz will be somewhat limited as a reliever. He would need additional time to warm up and likely would only come in to start an inning. Buchholz talked optimistically about building up his arm strength to a point where he could start if the Red Sox were to advance in the postseason.
Of course they need to get there first.
In other news:
• No starter has been named for a possible Game 163 tomorrow. No pitchers have been, or will be, sent ahead given the uncertainty. “We have a lot of destinations possible tonight,” Francona said. “We’ll be happy to go anywhere but Boston.”
• Francona on whether Alfredo Aceves could pitch tonight after going 3.2 innings (and throwing 36 pitches) last night: “Yep.”
• Tim Wakefield told Fox Sports he wants to return to the Red Sox next season to chase the team’s career victories record.
“I’ve definitely made up my mind that I definitely want to come back next year,” Wakefield said. “I have another goal in front of me that I’d like to accomplish, and that’s the all-time record for the Red Sox in wins. I’m only seven away. I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record. We’ll see what happens.”
• Francona on the decision to start Lavarnway instead of Saltalamacchia: “Salty could go. I don’t think he’s close to 100 percent. But, again, we have a kid who just drove in four runs and caught a pretty good game and feels good about himself and Lester’s OK with him catching. I think rather than go the other way, where Salty starts and we bring this kid in, I think we’re better off doing it this way. If we have to make a move, Salty’s always sitting there. But this kid played a pretty good game last night.”
• Kevin Youkilis refused comment on his status when approached in the clubhouse. “I got nothing for you,” he said. But Francona indicated that the third baseman’s season has come to an end because of injuries. “I don’t know if it’s been ruled out. I think the writing is kind of on the wall. I don’t think you’re going to see him play again. … I don’t think it’s 100 percent but it’s getting there.”
Youkilis, who will be 33 at the start of next season, hit a career-low .258 this season but did have a solid OPS of .833.
• Given all the excitement in baseball today, Francona was asked about the idea of adding a second wild card team in each league. “I think they should have changed the rule yesterday and added one more team,” he said.
After getting a laugh, Francona said he thinks the drama today is good for baseball.
“I don’t think it’s good for us. It’s hard. It’s difficult for us. It’s nerve-wracking. But it’s got to be great for the game,” he said. “There’s so much interest.”