Clay Buchholz not expecting to return before All-Star break

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Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz acknowledged to MLB.com’s Ian Browne on Wednesday that he is unlikely to return from the disabled list before the All-Star break and may even be out until late July.

Buchholz has been sidelined since June 16 with a lower back strain and felt renewed soreness Tuesday while attempting to throw a bullpen session.

The 26-year-old told reporters that he is not allowing himself to be frustrated by the setback and is looking forward to having health on his side down the stretch.

“I’d rather come back after the All-Star break and be healthy,” said Buchholz. “I want to make sure I’m ready for August and September. “If something happens and I go out and pitch and feel 80 percent, then this happens again and I have to go back on the DL, that’s not what I, or I don’t think the team wants. That’s where we’re at right now.”

Buchholz has registered a quality 3.48 ERA and 1.29 WHIP across 14 starts this season, with 60 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings. He signed a four-year, $29.945 million contract extension with Boston in early April.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. named ALCS MVP

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Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series after his club punched its ticket to the World Series on Thursday night against the Astros.

Coincidentally, the Astros’ Game 5 starter Justin Verlander was ALCS MVP last year en route to a championship.

Bradley went 0-for-3 with a walk in Thursday’s Game 5, but he hit a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3, and a go-ahead two-run home run in Game 4. That’s nine RBI and three extra-base hits across five games. He also drew four walks.

Though Bradley had a solid regular season, he was not near the top of the list most people would’ve expected to win ALCS MVP heading into the series. During the season, he hit .234/.314/.403 with 13 home runs, 59 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases in 535 plate appearances.