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.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?