Clay Buchholz to see back specialist

Updated: July 4, 2011, 7:10 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz will seek a second opinion this week for his lower back strain because it's not healing as quickly as had been hoped.

The right-hander has been on the disabled list since June 19 (retroactive to June 17) and will be examined by back specialist Craig Brigham at some point this week in North Carolina.

Buchholz met with Red Sox team physician Thomas Gill on Monday afternoon and the decision was made to see Brigham.

"Dr. Gill just made the appointment," Buchholz said. "He didn't say anything about the condition. I'm going to head down there and let [Brigham] look at it, basically just another set of eyes, look at it and see what's going on."

Buchholz said he didn't think this injury would set him back the way it has.

"Absolutely not," he said. "It was slowly getting better and then it just sort of stayed the same for a while. I just want to get back on the field as quick as I can. If something's not working, I want to get somebody else to look at it and try to go a different direction with it and hopefully it won't take that much longer. That's what I'm hoping for."

The pain and discomfort, Buchholz said, is something he's never felt before.

"When I'm throwing it's in my lower back and sometimes it feels like a muscle that was strained on [right] side, but now it's in the middle of my back," he said. "I don't know a whole lot about it and that's why I'm headed to that doctor to see if he can figure something out."

Buchholz pitched just five innings in his last start, June 16 against Tampa Bay, before coming out of the game. His discomfort was not apparent while he was on the mound, but he said it cropped up early, especially during waits in the dugout in the first two innings.

Buchholz said at the time that the discomfort felt like a pulled muscle. He first experienced back discomfort on May 29 in Detroit; he was given two extra days rest before his next start, but the condition persisted.

Buchholz is 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA. He is coming off a career-best 17-7 record in 2010.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after the club's 9-7 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday that he was examined by Brigham a few years ago for a back issue.

"He's a friend of Tom's and a really well-thought-of guy. He does a lot of stuff for the NFL and we'll get [Buchholz] down there this week," Francona said.

"It's just kind of interesting because it just hurts when he does certain things pitching. He's moving around so well other than that," Francona added. "When we send him out [to pitch] we want him to know, even if it hurts, he's not hurting himself."

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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