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Notes: Plans for Buchholz on the QT

Notes: Plans for Buchholz on the QT

ST. PETERSBURG -- The intrigue continues regarding top Red Sox pitching prospect Clay Buchholz. Though it seems logical that Buchholz will transition to a bullpen role for October, the Red Sox are staying coy about their plans regarding the talented right-hander's usage for the rest of the regular season.

Did the Red Sox broach the subject yet with Buchholz?

"Yeah, but ... [Jon] Lester is going to start on Wednesday," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "As far as [Buchholz] goes, we won't make that [announcement]. That will just be our trying to win."

If the Red Sox have in fact told Buchholz something, he did not divulge the information to reporters.

"I don't know," said Buchholz. "Maybe with the off-day coming up, I'll get another start from within the rotation. [I] might get another start or so in the next week, but they haven't told me."

How about going back to the bullpen so he can get some more reps out there before the postseason?

"I don't know about that," said Buchholz. "I'll do whatever they want me to do to give me a chance to stick around for October. Other than that, I don't really know what their plans are or what they're going to do for the remainder of September."

According to one organizational source, the tentative plan is for Buchholz to piggyback Lester on Wednesday night against Oakland and work some innings out of the bullpen.

It seems all but certain Buchholz factors into Boston's October plans in some form.

"It's exciting, but at the same time, I really don't know what all is going to happen," said Buchholz. "I'll just bide my time and take what they give me."

What the Red Sox have given Buchholz thus far has been three starts and one relief appearance. The first start came Aug. 17, when he beat the Angels in the first game of a doubleheader. Then there was the no-hitter against the Orioles on Sept. 1. Five days after that, Buchholz fired three innings of shutout relief in a win at Baltimore. And on Sept. 19, Buchholz made an abbreviated start in Toronto, throwing 68 pitches and giving up one earned run over 4 2/3 innings.

Interestingly, Buchholz doesn't think he needs another relief tune-up or two in order to feel comfortable filling the unfamiliar role in October.

"I think I could go in and do it," said Buchholz. "I know the feeling of what it takes for me to get ready coming out of there. If they want me to go to the bullpen and throw out of the bullpen, I'll do that."

As far as Buchholz is concerned, the big thing is that he feels rejuvenated at this juncture in the year.

"With the days I got off without pitching, it rejuvenated me and gave me some needed rest," said Buchholz. "I haven't pitched seven months in a year before. Doing it for the first time and having that time off helped."

No Youk before Boston: Though Kevin Youkilis continues to make progress from the right wrist contusion that has sidelined him for the last week, he won't be back in the lineup during this weekend series at Tropicana Field.

Youkilis did get a follow-up MRI taken on Friday and the results were what the Red Sox had hoped.

"The MRI came back negative, which is good," said Francona. "He has swelling in some of those smaller joints, it's still there. It radiates a lot of pain when he tries to swing. [We are] trying to get that out of there."

Manny still run down: Running without pain continues to be the final obstacle for Manny Ramirez (strained left oblique) in his quest to return to the starting lineup. The star slugger has missed 23 games in a row.

"He ran, but he still feels it running," Francona said. "The swinging part, he actually felt some improvement, which is good. But the running part, he still feels it, so we're still on hold."

Celebration talk: The Red Sox went into Saturday's game knowing that a Detroit loss combined with a Boston win would clinch a postseason berth. However, it appears that any type of champagne celebration will wait until the American League East title is clinched. Entering Saturday, Boston's magic number stood at seven.

"If you try to think of a way to celebrate, it kind of seems like it takes away from [the spontaneity]," said Francona. "You do whatever you want to do. If guys want to high-five, they high-five. If they want to jump all over each other, they jump all over each other. First of all, I'm more concerned about the win."

Coming up: Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (16-11, 4.73 ERA) takes the ball at his favorite road haunt Sunday, when he closes out this three-game series against the Rays. Lifetime at Tropicana Field, Wakefield is 9-0 with a 2.16 ERA. The Rays counter with right-hander Edwin Jackson (4-15, 5.99 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:40 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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