|Kevin Youkilis, still in the running for the last All-Star spot (he’s second behind Yankee Nick Swisher), ripped his career-high fifth triple in the third inning. (Chris O’Meara/Associated Press)|
As expected, Buchholz on DL
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Clay Buchholz said he briefly argued with Red Sox manager Terry Francona and pitching coach John Farrell when they suggested that the smart move was for him to go on the disabled list.
“I wanted to pitch,’’ Buchholz said yesterday after being the 11th Sox player to go on the DL. “But the more they talked, the more it made sense.’’
Buchholz strained his lower left hamstring running the bases in San Francisco June 26. The hope was that he would be able to start against the Rays tonight. But lefthander Felix Doubront will take his place.
“We just weren’t comfortable with the running part. When he was trying to run, he was still feeling it,’’ Francona said. “There was no reason for us to rush into it, so we just kept kind of letting it go and seeing if he really did get better.
“There was no way we were going to let this kid pitch unless he was perfect.’’
Being on the DL cost Buchholz the chance to pitch for the American League in the All-Star Game. Yankees manager Joe Girardi selected his own pitcher, Andy Pettitte, to replace Buchholz.
“I’m going to go anyway and have some fun,’’ Buchholz said. “Hopefully I’ll get a chance to pitch in that game again.’’
Buchholz was placed on the DL retroactive to June 27. The plan is for him to start one of the first two games after the All-Star break. Francona and Farrell have drawn up several different rotations and will decide on one soon.
“[Buchholz] can get his work done and then coming out of the break we can just pitch him early on probably,’’ Francona said.
With Jon Lester on the AL roster and likely to pitch in the All-Star Game, he will be slotted into the back end of the post-break rotation.
Doubront joined the team yesterday, saying he was excited to get another chance. The 22-year-old faced the Dodgers June 18 at Fenway Park, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks over five innings in a game the Sox won, 10-6.
Doubront pitched that game on 10 days of rest, which he said affected his command. He is in a regular routine now, having made his last start for Triple A Pawtucket on Wednesday.
“I feel good,’’ he said. “I need to throw strikes, keep on attacking the hitters. I learned a lot the last time.’’
Doubront emerged as one of the organization’s top prospects in the last two seasons. He also is familiar with the Rays, having faced them twice in spring training and throwing five shutout innings.
“What we really like about him is his poise,’’ Francona said. “He’s got a fastball he’s not afraid to use. Sometimes with young pitchers, that’s a difficult thing to get across.
“I don’t think anybody’s ever happy with Buchholz going on the DL. But on the flip side, it’s kind of exciting to see how [Doubront] does.’’
Doubront was asked about the possibility of pitching in relief later in the season. The idea doesn’t entice him.
“Not really. I don’t know about that. It’s not easy,’’ he said. “The transition from a starter to a reliever, it’s not easy. It’s something where you have to work for six months or a complete year. I don’t know about that. It would just be hard.’’
Doubront has pitched 112 games for the organization since being signed out of Venezuela in 2005, all of them as a starter.
Paul Konerko (White Sox), Delmon Young (Twins), and Michael Young (Rangers) are the other candidates. The voting started Sunday and will finish at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“Hopefully our fans will kind of rise to the occasion, which wouldn’t be a surprise,’’ Francona said. “People understand how good he is.’’
Some believe the contest can get a hitter’s swing out of synch.
“It’s a really popular thing for the fans and the players,’’ Francona said. “What people don’t realize is how exhausting it is. It just takes so long and takes so much out of them. Saying that, if it’s good for the game, and it obviously is, we’ll let the players make up their mind. We wouldn’t get in the way.
“I guess from where I sit, I’d love our guys to watch, get their video camera out, and have a good time. I also know the fans want to see the guys do it.’’
Ortiz finished fourth in the Derby in 2005 and 2006 and was eighth in 2004. He skipped the event the last two times he was an All-Star, but sounded eager to try again.
“I’d do it,’’ he said. “It doesn’t bother me.’’
He is scheduled to pitch for the Gulf Coast League Sox against the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., at noon. If the game gets rained out, Beckett would pitch to some GCL players at Tropicana Field.
Beckett has been on the DL since May 19 with a bad back. He will need a few rehab games before rejoining the rotation.
“He looks pretty good. The other day he was letting it go pretty good,’’ Francona said. “The command is going to take a little while.’’