Between the lower back strains and esophagitis, Clay Buchholz has had a difficult time staying healthy over the last couple of seasons, missing a total of 123 games from 2011 on as a result. Though both he and the Boston Red Sox undoubtedly wants to put all that behind them in Spring Training, an injury has come up in the way again.
This time, it only took about ten minutes into the team’s unofficial start to the season.
The 28-year old Buchholz took part in the first fielding practice for the Red Sox pitchers, and was limping off before they even really got starting after straining his right hamstring while covering first base.
If there is any solace to be taken in this incident, it that Buchholz’s injury appears to be a mild one. Not that it should make the Red Sox any more optimistic about the pitcher’s outlook going into the 2013 season.
That said, manager John Farrell isn’t ready to hit the panic button yet, saying while “it’s not what [the team] drew up,” that the injury in the middle of the hamstring bodes well for its lack of severity. Buchholz wasn’t scheduled to pitch until about two weeks from now anyway, so if he makes a quick recovery, the best case scenario is that it might not affect his preparations much at all.
For now, though, the former All-Star will be shut down and reevaluated in the coming days to see if he will end up needing to miss more time than the early diagnosis indicates.
If there are any more complications to this, the Red Sox rotation will be in significant trouble, as they were counting on Buchholz to hold down the number-two spot in the rotation. A resurgent Ryan Dempster and (less likely) John Lackey would alleviates things, but it’s hard to call either a reliable option at this time.
Though the hamstring is not the same back and stomach ailments that have been part of the righty’s injury history over the last two seasons, it should be pointed out that he did end up missing some 18 games due to a similar issuein 2010, in a breakout season that also saw his back issues begin to develop towards the end of the year.
So, while the doom-and-gloom crowd aren’t going to gather any time soon, by no means are the Red Sox and Buchholz out of the woods yet.