While Jon Lester is sidelined indefinitely with a lat strain, there’s at least some encouraging news to pass along about Clay Buchholz.
According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, Buchholz hopes to resume a throwing program as soon as Sunday. The 26-year-old right-hander received a cortisone shot in his back when he saw Dr. Craig Brigham in North Carolina on Wednesday.
Brigham ruled out the worst-case scenario of structural damage and advised Buchholz that he can treat the injury with rest and rehabilitation.
“I got the injection and it’s going to take some time to heal,” Buchholz said. “Then you’ve got to work on some core exercises to get that healthy and strong again. As soon as I can’t feel it, he said I can go from there. He said there was no case of me hurting myself long term if I had to pitch through it. … It was definitely good news. Structurally, no damage. That was my thoughts going in. I thought they were going to say something bad. I came out of there in a lot better spirits than I went in, so that was good.”
Buchholz hasn’t pitched since leaving a start against the Rays on June 16 with a strained lower back. He is 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA and 60/31 K/BB ratio over 14 starts this season.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.