Clay Buchholz makes early exit from start due to stiff back

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Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal passes along word that right-hander Clay Buchholz had to be pulled prematurely from his Thursday evening start against the Rays due to back stiffness.

Buchholz surrendered just two hits and one earned run over five innings before exiting and had thrown only 81 pitches. He’s been bothered by this back ailment since the beginning of June and has also been pitching through a blister on his finger.

The Red Sox are calling his early departure “precautionary” and have not indicated that he’s going to need to miss his next start, but they’re adding rotation depth in Andrew Miller next week and could simply skip Buchholz one time through the rotation to be safe. Ian Browne of MLB.com has an indication of what that might look like.

Buchholz, 26, has registered a quality 3.48 ERA and 1.29 WHIP through 14 starts this season.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.