BOSTON -- Any optimism that Clay Buchholz soon would be returning to the mound faded Thursday after Red Sox manager John Farrell announced that because of lingering soreness that resurfaced on the team's West Coast trip, Buchholz's scheduled bullpen session was scratched.
Instead, Buchholz is now slated to be re-examined Friday by team orthopedist Peter Asnis.
Buchholz has not undergone an MRI since June 27; the team said he had bursitis in his right shoulder, but no structural damage. The Red Sox had been encouraged by Buchholz's progress, with Farrell talking last weekend about his starter nearing the point where he would throw a simulated game, then go on a rehab assignment.
But that schedule has been blown apart after Sunday's bullpen session in Oakland, when Buchholz complained of continuing soreness. Instead of playing catch Tuesday in New York, where he made an appearance as a member of the American League All-Star team, Buchholz did not pick up a baseball.
"We have every intention and hope and outlook that he will resume pitching this season," Farrell said Thursday, when the Red Sox held a voluntary workout. "I wish I could give you an exact date, to be honest with you. And Clay would, too."
Buchholz, who was hosting a charity bowling event Thursday night, has pitched just twice since May 22 for a total of 11 2/3 innings. He has been diagnosed at various times in the past five weeks with irritation of the AC joint and a strained trapezius muscle, both of which come into play for a pitcher in his windup and delivery.
"There's no one more frustrated in this than Clay, and that needs to be made clear," Farrell said. "He's a strong competitor, he recognizes the situation we're in and he wants to be on the mound. That's the bottom line. But at the same time, his body's telling him one thing."
At the moment, Farrell said, Buchholz is not scheduled for an MRI. The hope, Farrell said, is Buchholz will be able to resume a throwing program, but acknowledged he will return to throwing off flat ground.
"Once he got on the mound, and whether it was consecutive outings or consecutive work sessions of that intensity, that's where he felt like things were starting to take a step back a little bit," Farrell said of Buchholz's bullpen sessions on the West Coast. "And as a result, that's why there was some additional anti-inflammatory medication given. Just trying to get him past that plateau that he's hit."
Buchholz had been Boston's best pitcher this season, going 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 12 starts. After his start May 22 against the White Sox in Chicago, he complained of discomfort that at the time he blamed on falling asleep with his toddler daughter on his shoulder. The injury was described as irritation of the AC joint, which is at the top of the shoulder.
He came back and made two more starts, both wins -- a rain-shortened affair in which he pitched five scoreless innings against the Yankees on June 2, then 6 2/3 innings against the Angels on June 8, in which he gave up two runs on six hits. But he wound up on the DL after that start with what was initially diagnosed as a strained trapezius muscle. When he was unable to complete a bullpen session nearly three weeks later, he had an MRI, which revealed the bursitis.