Clay Buchholz hasn’t pitched in a game since June 8 due to shoulder problems. And six weeks later, it’s still not clear when he’ll be ready to return to the Red Sox.
Buchholz felt renewed soreness during a bullpen session on Sunday and didn’t pick up a baseball during the All-Star break. Red Sox manager John Farrell told Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston that the injured right-hander is now slated to be re-examined by team orthopedist Peter Asnis on Friday.
“We have every intention and hope and outlook that he will resume pitching this season,” Farrell said Thursday, where the Red Sox held a voluntary workout. “I wish I could give you an exact date, to be honest with you. And Clay would, too.”
Buchholz isn’t scheduled to undergo an MRI at this time, but Farrell indicated that Asnis could deem one necessary. Even if he receives good news, he’ll have to start his throwing program from square one. That means his absence will likely stretch well into August.
Buchholz has a 1.71 ERA and 81/29 K/BB ratio over 84 1/3 innings in 12 starts this season. With his status in doubt, the Red Sox could be on the lookout for a starting pitcher leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.