Boston Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz could miss more time than initially expected after being administered a platent-rich plasma injection (PRP) to aid in healing the strained flexor muscle in his right elbow.
Buchholz was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 11 after exiting early from his start against the New York Yankees the night before with elbow soreness. He recently traveled to Pensecola, Florida to get a second opinion from orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, who confirmed the diagnosis of the Red Sox medical staff that the ulnar collateral ligament was intact and recommended the PRP injection.
PRP injections have increasingly been used as treatment for soft-tissue injuries to tendons and ligaments. Red Sox pitcher Brandon Workman received the same treatment in April to treat his strained elbow, but ultimately required Tommy John surgery.
The Red Sox claim that Buchholz has not sustained the same structural damage that Workman had and believe he will avoid surgery, but you can imagine Buchholz would remain concerned given that one of his teammates recently went through a similar situation that resulted in a worst-case scenario that ended his season.
While the Red Sox are hoping that this injury to Buchholz isn’t season-ending, they do admit that he will be sidelined for several more weeks and has been shut down from throwing indefinitely.
"“It’s going to be a little bit of a shutdown time now as a result of the PRP injection,” explained manager John Farrell. “The total time with that, the total time of shutdown, has yet to be determined.”"
Buchholz has had a lengthy injury history throughout his career. He’s never made 30 starts or thrown for 200 innings in a single season, and if he doesn’t return this year it will mark the 5th time since 2008 that he’s failed to make more than 18 starts.
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There have been times in his career that Buchholz has been one of the most dominant starters in the game. After a rocky start this season he settled down to return to form, leading the staff with a 3.26 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 113.1 innings. Then just as he was making the case that the Red Sox had the ace they’ve been seeking already on board, he suffers another injury.
Inconsistency has marred Buchholz’s career. While some of his issues may merely be in his head, there is no doubt that injuries have played a part. Due to the amount of time he has missed over the years there have been whispers across Red Sox Nation from fans doubting his toughness. Given the diagnosis from both the Red Sox doctors and Dr. Andrews, there is no reason to doubt that his current injury is a legitimate concern.
For now there is little Buchholz can do but rest his arm, waiting to see if the PRP injection does what it’s supposed to do so that he can avoid surgery, while watching his team fall further out of the playoff hunt.