AP Sports Writer
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. Struggling left-hander Felix Doubront will be skipped this time through the rotation.
"Just to give him some recovery time, a little added rest, just as we've done with a couple of other guys in the rotation," manager John Farrell said.
Buchholz will be followed by Ryan Dempster and Jake Peavy against the second-place Rays. Farrell said he probably would prefer not to use Doubront out of the bullpen right now.
"I think for this time through we'll stay away from him for now just to give him, we feel, the rest needed," Farrell said.
Before the game, Farrell said the decision would be based on which starter is most effective right now, not which one would transition best to the bullpen.
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."
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