Buchholz goes on DL, Johnson called up

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BOSTON - The Red Sox avoided a worst-case scenario with Clay Buchholz when they learned that the veteran right-hander was diagnosed with a strained flexor muscle in his right elbow, but importantly, no damage to his ligament.

The Red Sox placed Buchholz on the 15-day DL and promoted lefty Brian Johnson from Pawtucket.

"As much as a relief as it is,'' said Buchholz, who walked off the mound in the middle of an at-bat in the fourth inning of Friday's 5-1 loss to the New York Yankees, "it's probably more frustrating than a relief. But at least it's not going to be a long stay on the DL. It's always a relief [to know that he didn't have a torn ligament]; you never want to be out 16-18 months with the [Tommy John] surgery. So that was a relief knowing that, but along the same lines, the team was on a pretty good run and I felt like I was doing pretty good out there, too, so it always stinks when something comes up.''

"[The MRI] did indicate that the ligament was clean,'' said manager John Farrell. ""We'll get a better idea of it throughout the weekend here how long the initial shutdown period will be. It's going to depend on the extent of the initial injury.''

An injury to the flexor muscle, attached to the elbow, is often a precursor or an indicator of a torn ulnar collateral ligament. But when Buchholz became alarmed in the fourth inning Friday night, experienced stiffness in the elbow, he may have saved himself from a far more serious injury.

"Typically when you have a damaged ligament,'' said Farrell, "there's been some deterioration or lack of strength that ends up putting more stress on the ligament and that's when the ligament ends up getting damaged. To me, it sounds like this has been caught early on, or early enough that those changes have been shown in that flexor muscle, not the ligament.

"Clay's health is first and foremost in this. Talking with him late [Friday] night after he came back from the MRI, he was certainly relieved. But still, we've got to take the necessary steps to let this calm down and let him rebuild it.''

The setback comes as Buchholz was in the middle of one of the better stretches of his career, having posted a 1.99 ERA over the 10 starts previous to the one he made Friday night.

"It's frustrating,'' agreed Buchholz. "I was on a pretty good run. I don't think anyone wants to come out of an inning, in the middle of a game. I was trying to push through that last inning, but with each pitch in that inning,
I could tell it wasn't getting any better or staying the same; it was getting worse. That's when I called Sandy [Leon] out and I thought it was best [to stop]."

Buchholz said he first felt some stiffness in the elbow in the third inning when he tried to elevate a fastball to Brett Gardner, but wound up throwing a pitch down in the strike zone. He felt some tenderness "from that pitch on. I probably shouldn't have even started the [fourth] inning.''

Buchholz said the elbow felt somewhat improved Saturday.

"Obviously, [Friday] night, it got to where I had never been in a game, ever,'' he said. "Today, it's sore. You always think the worst when it happens. I started running through my head how it happened. It wasn't one pitch, it wasn't a 'pop.' So that sort of makes you feel a little bit better about it, but until you get images of it, you don't really know.''

It's expected that Buchholz will not pick up a ball for the next week to 10 days.

He wouldn't rule out the possibility of getting a second opinion during the break.

"That's an option,'' said Buchholz, "But with what the doctors have said about it, and how comfortable they were describing what they said it was, I don't see it being anything to different than that. But yeah, I'll talk to my family and agent and everything and see what we've got.''

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