Commentary

Oh baby -- Clay's injury a puzzler

Sox sticking to story that Buchholz's toddler caused his AC joint discomfort

Updated: May 30, 2013, 12:46 AM ET
By Gordon Edes | ESPNBoston.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox are sticking to their story, which just feels a lot harder to digest on the same day that Dustin Pedroia is celebrated as a profile in courage for playing the season's first two months with a torn ligament in his thumb.

Buchholz hasn't pitched in a week. He has irritation in his AC joint, according to the Red Sox. It happened, the pitcher said, when the team returned home from Chicago last Wednesday and he fell asleep while holding his sleeping child in his arms.

"The night we got back from the road trip, just got in bed and had the little girl with me and I feel asleep like this [with her in the crook of his arm] instead of on my back like I usually do," Buchholz said last weekend, as related by my ESPNBoston colleague, Tony Lee. "When I woke up the next morning it felt a little tight. So I came in here and have been getting treatment on it. I could pitch tomorrow if I had to, but I don't have to. So I'll take my time and get it all the way out and pitch in a couple more days."

[+] EnlargeClay Buchholz
Jesse Johnson/USA TODAY SportsClay Buchholz has encountered little trouble on the field so far.

Buchholz was supposed to pitch Monday. That start was pushed back to Friday in New York against the Yankees. On Wednesday, Buchholz threw a bullpen in advance of that start and told Farrell he still felt something. So much for Friday's start. Franklin Morales will come out of the bullpen to start here Thursday, Jon Lester will be pushed back to Friday, and Buchholz will remain in limbo, though Farrell said he hasn't ruled out using the right-hander sometime during the Yankees series. Sunday remains a strong possibility.

I asked the manager if this was still baby-related.

"That's the explanation," he said.

Maybe it's time then, I suggested, for a new team rule: No toting sleeping babies, at least in-season.

"Can't police 'em, 24-7," Farrell said, answering the question as seriously as it was asked.

Farrell said he made the decision to postpone Buchholz's start again, taking it out of the pitcher's hands. He doesn't want Buchholz taking the mound again until he is satisfied there is no issue, Buchholz is convinced there is no issue and there is no danger of Buchholz hurting something else because he is subconsciously thinking about his AC joint.

Buchholz said he wanted to pitch Friday night. He is undefeated at 7-0 and has the best ERA in the American League at 1.73. He has every reason to want to take the mound.

"It was their decision," he said. "They asked me how I felt, I told them that I definitely wanted to pitch. I want to pitch Friday, but they're going to give me a little time to feel 100 percent like I have all year and get this moved out of the way so it doesn't affect me down the road."

Buchholz said he felt stiffness in the joint while playing catch, but once he began cutting loose during his bullpen, he felt "pretty much normal."

The Red Sox, meanwhile, are justified in wanting to protect such a valued asset.

I have no doubt that Buchholz is feeling discomfort, although he must feel at least a faint flush of embarrassment to be idled by what seems like such a trifling matter compared to Pedroia's playing every day with a torn ligament in his thumb.

I just wonder if Little Baby Buchholz is being held accountable for something that was not of her doing. Consider: The night before he woke up feeling discomfort that he attributed to the baby in his arms, Buchholz threw 113 pitches in Chicago. Isn't it at least plausible that Buchholz's irritated AC joint had something more to do with his pitching than the way he snuggled his baby? How can he be certain it was the baby, and not his cutter, curveball, sinker, changeup, or four-seamer that might have aggravated something?

"I didn't feel anything in the start," he said, "if that's what you're asking.

"The only way I hurt that joint is trauma -- running into something -- or being in a weird position for an extended period of time. I didn't run into anything that night."

We all know what it's like to sleep wrong and wake up with an achy neck, a sore back, a stiff shoulder, a cramped leg. But to still be bothered by it, more than a week later?

I talked Wednesday to the mother of three young children who says she has fallen asleep holding a child many times, and yes, something often hurts when she wakes up. "But usually it lasts a day, tops," she said.

Of course, she doesn't have to pitch every fifth day.

I asked a doctor friend of mine. "I suppose he could have strained the joint if he held her for a prolonged period of time," he said, "but are you sure he doesn't have a little biceps tendinitis? The biceps inserts adjacent to the AC joint."

I asked a Boston-area fitness trainer. "I suppose it could be legit," she said, "but I would never admit it."

It's enough to make a Bruins fan hope that no one draws baby duty between now and Saturday night.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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