NEW YORK (AP) -- Clay Buchholz is ready to rejoin the Boston Red Sox rotation after missing three months with a strained neck.
The right-hander said he threw about 30 pitches in a routine bullpen session Sunday at Yankee Stadium, his final hurdle before starting Tuesday night at Tampa Bay. Boston manager John Farrell said the team was not quite ready to announce which starter would be sent to the bullpen to make room for Buchholz, but Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster were considered the likely candidates.
"I think the transition to the bullpen is probably less the factor in this," Farrell said. "The priority is, who's the most effective starter right now?"
Buchholz opened 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 12 starts this season and was selected to the All-Star team. He hasn't pitched in the majors since beating the Los Angeles Angels on June 8.
Buchholz made three rehab starts in the minors, the final one on Thursday in a playoff game for Triple-A Pawtucket. Farrell said Buchholz should be able to throw 75-80 pitches Tuesday.
"We're hopeful we get a guy that's close to what he was prior to the injury, and it would be an additional lift to this rotation," Farrell said.
Boston began the day with the best record in the majors and an 8½-game lead in the AL East. Buchholz said he wants to get in peak form in time for a potential trip to the postseason.
"I want to make sure that I'm ready for that," Buchholz said, adding that his body should feel fresher than most other pitchers because of all the time off.
Buchholz acknowledged there was a point this summer when he doubted whether he would make it back this season.
"Mentally, I'm ready. I think that's what everybody was questioning -- mental toughness. But I know my body better than anybody else," he said.
Farrell said Friday he thought Buchholz was "in a pretty good place from a mental standpoint, in addition to physically being sound."