Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz has been out since June 8 with inflammation in his right shoulder. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The 29-year-old right-hander, who went 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his first 12 starts this season, is scheduled to make rehab starts on Sunday and Friday.
The minor-league season is then slated to end on Sept. 2, two days before Buchholz's turn in the rotation would come up again.
Thus, manager John Farrell said the Red Sox could have Buchholz start on Sept. 4, even on a limited pitch count.
Regardless, Farrell said the Sox are inclined to reinstate Buchholz from the disabled list after only two minor league starts, even if the All-Star right-hander is limited by a pitch count, especially because the team will have a deeper bullpen with expanded September rosters.
“If he’s at four innings, we’d certainly be open-minded to him starting those four innings (in the majors),” Farrell said. “If they’re going to be four quality innings, I’d rather they be here than in Fort Myers. If he comes back and pitches as he was, it’d be a great pickup.”
Buchholz is expected to throw about 50 pitches over three innings for Single-A Lowell on Sunday. It is unclear who would be the odd man out in Boston's rotation of Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jake Peavy, Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster.
Farrell said the Red Sox have not decided which pitcher will be removed from the rotation to accommodate Buchholz’ return. But struggling Ryan Dempster will return from his five-game suspension to make a start Friday night, aligning him with Buchholz’ schedule.