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Clay Buchholz Defends Himself Against Accusations Of Being 'Soft'

Mike Smollins
By Mike Smollins @MikeSmollins
on Aug 02, 2013 01:07 PM EDT
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Clay Buchholz
Red Sox SP Clay Buchholz.

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, who hasn't played since June due to a strained bursa sac in his right shoulder, said Thursday that he doesn't want anyone to think he's soft for not yet returning from the injury.

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"People are saying I'm weak. I want to be out there. I was having the best year of my baseball career," Buchholz told ESPN.

The right-hander has a point as he was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA before he injured himself in his last start against the Los Angeles Angels on June 8 at Fenway Park.. Buchholz, in his seventh season with Boston, amassed 81 strikeouts and 29 walks in 81.4 innings pitched prior to the injury.

The pain started in Buchholz neck and then ran down to his shoulder, according to the pitcher. Buchholz, 28, said he didn't initially know what caused the injury and he has pitched just 11.2 innings since late May. He tried to pitch through it, but after counseling with team doctors he decided not play through the pain and hasn't been ready to make a return since. Though he's not ready for a comeback, Buchholz says his current treatment is going well and he hopes to speed up the recovery process. He's due to throw long toss Friday.

"Hopefully [Friday] I'll ramp up the intensity as far as the velocity on the throws and see how the body responds to that," Buchholz said to ESPN Thursday. "If everything goes well there, that's when I can start getting off the mound."

Buchholz is frustrated having to watch from the sidelines as the Red Sox are battling in a tight race for the American League East division crown with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Sox (66-44) hold just a one game lead over Tampa Bay (64-44) heading into play Friday, and Baltimore (60-49) isn't too far back, sitting just five-and-a-half out. Boston notched its 11th walk-off victory Thursday in a victory over the Mariners at Fenway Park.

Buchholz would love to participate in the race rather than watch. The Red Sox, unsure of when Buchholz would be back, traded for Jake Peavy before Wednesdays MLB trade deadline to help shore up its rotation to gear up for the stretch run to a playoff push in Buchholz's absence.

The pitcher has reasons to be upset with his progression from the injury, but he's very hopeful to return to the rotation soon and insists that he's not weak.

"Overall it's been frustrating," Buchholz said per ESPN. "I want to be out there pitching as much as anybody else does. Going through what I've gone through, feeling like the days I've felt good, as a whole, I think we tried to rush it a little too quick at some points. That was the reason why I was set back after that."

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