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Red Sox vs. Mariners: Re-enter the Buchholz

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Clay Buchholz is back, and that might actually be a good thing.

Jim Rogash

Clay Buchholz is back in action Wednesday night--a situation which probably falls into the category of "nothing to lose" by this point.

Today's Lineups

Brock Holt - 1B Endy Chavez - DH
Daniel Nava - RF James Jones - CF
Dustin Pedroia - 2B Robinson Cano - 2B
David Ortiz - DH Kyle Seager - 3B
Jonny Gomes - LF Logan Morrison - 1B
A.J. Pierzynski - C Mike Zunino - C
Xander Bogaerts - 3B Dustin Ackley - LF
Stephen Drew - SS Brad Miller - SS
Jackie Bradley - CF Stefen Romero - RF
Clay Buchholz - RHP Hisashi Iwakuma - RHP

I don't mean that to be at all sarcastic or deprecating. When Felix Doubront made his return, with his velocity unimproved in rehab stints and his time on the disabled list having smacked of convenience more than true disability, there wasn't much reason to hope his return would produce different results.

With Clay Buchholz, however, the story is not so clear. There's little doubt that something was physically amiss with Buchholz. We have seen him perform so much better than this, and it's not really in question that he is capable of going deep into games without losing his quality as time passes. No doubt he's fragile, but his various back and neck ailments have been more acute than what we've seen with Doubront, who simply seems to fade away the longer he starts. In between periods of injury, Buchholz is as sharp as can be.

Considering that, there's a lot more hope that Buchholz will take the mound tonight and pitch like the man we remember from the first half of 2013--or even his 2010-11 self--rather than the disaster that started this season. It doesn't hurt that, while both he and Doubront were quite successful in their last rehab starts, Buchholz actually showed the signs of improvement in terms of velocity and control that are more important to major league success than minor league results.

It could all go wrong. And even if it doesn't, with the impressive Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound against a lineup that has proven incapable of scoring time and again, there's every possibility that the end result will be another loss. But right now getting quality pieces back in line is probably a greater concern then moving up or down in the standings.

First pitch is at 10:05 p.m. ET with broadcasts on NESN and WEEI.