The Lowell Spinners took to the field today to take on the Hudson Valley Renegades with 11 games to go in the Class A short season New York Penn League baseball season. The Spinners sat 3.5 games out of a playoff spot, while the Renegades are just 2.5 games out, but the playoff picture is far from what drew many eyes to this matchup on Sunday.
Instead, Boston Red Sox fans everywhere were itching to see the guy that would take the mount in the top of the first inning — a guy by the name of Clay Buchholz.
Yes, for the first time since June 8, Buchholz would take to the rubber in a live action game. He proceeded to fail to get out of the first inning. Before Red Sox fans freak out about Buchholz only getting two outs while walking three, giving up one hit and three runs (one earned) in a league five levels below MLB, know that this is just another step in the right direction.
Most the players in the NYPL are in their late teens to early 20s. These are players who have just came out of high school, college, or an academy in Latin America who will get really hyped up for what could be their only career at-bat against a major league pitcher. A guy like Buchholz, on his first rehab start, is really looking to just go out, put some balls over the plate with a live batter at the dish.
Buchholz isn’t looking to put up stats on this rehab stint, but instead be able to feel comfortable revving up his stuff and doing it pain-free. In fact, the Red Sox cared so little about the actual performance that they announced Buchholz could be up as early as September 4.
One member of the Spinners did shine with extra eyes on the game, and is a guy Red Sox fans need to take note of. Manuel Margot, currently just outside Sox’ top-20 prospects, went 4-for-4 to bring his average to over .300 this season, with almost 20 steals and plenty of defensive highlights to go with it. It is going to be a few more years for this 18-year-old, but he could be something really special.