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.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.
The Red Sox are expecting to go to an arbitration hearing with left-handed reliever Fernando Abad, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski said there was a “decent chance” a hearing would be necessary after countering Abad’s $2.7 million request with $2 million.
Abad, 31, pitched just 12 2/3 innings for Boston after the club acquired him from Minnesota at the trade deadline last season. The lefty earned a cumulative 3.66 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.9 SO/9 for the two teams in 2016. He received $1.25 million in 2016 and will remain under club control (through arbitration) in 2017. A $2.7 million salary would be a hefty increase for the veteran reliever, who has seen a significant decline since he put up a 1.57 ERA for the Athletics in 2014 and who has not amassed more than 0.6 fWAR in any single season to date.
While the Red Sox aren’t close to settling with Abad, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports that they may be closing in on a settlement with left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz filed at $5.7 million, while the Sox felt more comfortable at $3.6 million. The two are expected to meet somewhere in the middle to avoid an arbitration hearing later this winter.