Clay Buchholz throws 50 pitches from a bullpen mound and calls it his “best day so far”

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Clay Buchholz hasn’t pitched in a major league game since June 8 because of neck and shoulder troubles. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that the right-hander threw around 50 pitches — simulating three innings of work — on Wednesday afternoon off a bullpen mound and called it his “best day so far” in a chat later with various Boston media members.

“Today felt like a good time for me to test it, and yeah, the last 30 pitches I didn’t feel anything,” said Buchholz. “I think that was the best thing I could take out of it.”

Buchholz will throw a similar-style bullpen session on Saturday and could then be considered for a minor league rehab assignment. There’s still hope that he will be ready for activation by the end of August.

Buchholz, 29, was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 12 starts before landing on the disabled list.

Nick Markakis leads all NL outfielders in All-Star voting

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I would hope by now that I no longer have to preface All-Star talk with my usual “none of this matters” disclaimers, but please keep all of that in mind when I mention that Nick Markakis is leading all National League outfielders in All-Star voting.

Markakis, with 1,173,653 votes, has surpassed the slumping Bryce Harper in that category. Harper has 1,002,696 votes. The third place outfielder is Matt Kemp of the Dodgers with 925,697. Fourth place — Charlie Blackmon of the Dodgers — is like 300,000 votes back of Kemp.Yes, Markakis, Harper and Kemp may be the starting NL outfield. Brandon Nimmo — not on the ballot — should be grumpy, but he’ll get his chance I’m sure.

The thing about it: Markakis, for as unexpected as his appearance may be on this list, deserves to at least be in the top three. He’s second in WAR among National League outfielders behind Lorenzo Cain. He’s slowed down a good bit in June and he’s coming off of a 2017 season in which he had a 96 OPS+ and 0.7 WAR, but he’s having quite an outstanding season. I write that mostly so that there is a record of it come October and we’ve all forgotten it.

Seriously, though, good for Markakis, who has never made an All-Star Game. Good for Kemp too for that matter, who most people assumed was a walking — well, limping — corpse heading into this season. Good for Harper because anything that can keep up the guise of him having a good year when, in reality, he’s really not, will help his confidence as he heads into free agency.

Finally, good for the American League, who will likely get to face a far, far inferior National League team next month in Washington.

The rest of the voting: