Clay Buchholz' second opinion has come back as a reaffirmation of the first. According to Dr. James Andrews, his shoulder is structurally fine, leaving inflammation as his only issue.
Given that we've known Buchholz never felt at 100%, there's no real way this examination could have provided a better result. The inflammation is what we've known about all along, and what team doctors have said shouldn't keep Buchholz from getting back on the mound. It's just been a matter of convincing Clay that he's really good to go even if things don't feel perfect.
And, according to John Farrell, the added peace of mind from Andrews really was all that Clay needed. The man with the 1.71 ERA will resume his throwing program, now more willing to pitch through the discomfort that has worried him throughout this lengthy process.
Still, this doesn't mean Buchholz is due back tomorrow. Chances are it will be more than a week before he makes it into a rehab appearance, and then he might need two of those before making it back to the majors. Early-to-mid August seems like the best case scenario for his return.
However long it takes, though, Buchholz will be back, pitching for the Red Sox well before the end of the 2013 season, and that's big for a team with a rotation that has struggled to find its feet in recent weeks.
Read more Red Sox:
- Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia talking record extension
- Red Sox prospect Q&A with Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks
- Five Red Sox prospects in Fangraphs mid-season top-50
- Red Sox position prospects, in word cloud form
- Now is not the time for Xander Bogaerts