Clay Buchholz aims to return for the postseason

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The Red Sox confirmed today that Clay Buchholz does indeed have a stress fracture in his lower back, but Terry Francona told Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com that his return this season “hasn’t been ruled out.”

Buchholz will take part in a five-step recovery program, beginning with core-strengthening exercises, before being reevaluated in a month. If all goes well, he could then be cleared to begin a throwing program.

The odds of him returning this season will be long because the minor league schedule ends in early September, which means that he likely wouldn’t be able to make any rehab starts against advanced competition. Still, Buchholz is holding out hope that he will be able to return should the Red Sox reach the postseason.

“If there was a timetable then the postseason is where I’d want to come back. That makes the most sense to me,” said Buchholz. “I’ve been frustrated for a while. I’ve wanted to go out there and pitch. That’s why I’m here and that’s why they gave me the extension that they gave me earlier this year. It’s definitely something I didn’t want to happen, but I also believe that everything happens for a reason.”

According to Tony Lee of NESN.com, Buchholz is prepared to pitch out of the bullpen if he is able to return this season, but he is also willing to go to the instructional league in Florida to build up his pitch count if the Red Sox want need to make a start. Of course, looking at the bigger picture, the good news is that he is expected to be 100 percent for spring training next season.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.