Clay Buchholz says he has “finally turned a corner” in his recovery from neck, shoulder pain

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Evan Drellich, beat writer for MassLive.com, tells the story:

BOSTON — Maybe Clay Buchholz will need just one rehab start after all.

That’s a scenario the Red Sox right-hander suggested was possible Wednesday, on a day he said he felt like he had “finally turned a corner” in his recovery from right-shoulder bursitis. He threw from about 100 feet on flat ground, and would need to get to 120 feet before stepping on a mound.

“I feel like I am finally getting close to feeling pretty much normal now,” Buchholz told reporters following Wednesday afternoon’s 100-foot throwing session. “So the last few days of throwing are encouraging. I’m finally able to clear my head a little bit and go about it as just getting back to getting off the mound.”

Buchholz has not pitched in a game since June 8 due to neck and shoulder discomfort.

The hope is that he’ll be ready to return to the Red Sox rotation shortly after the All-Star break.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.