Boston activated the righty from the 60-day disabled list for Wednesday night's contest against the Orioles.
Buchholz last started for the Red Sox on June 16 and has been recovering from a stress fracture in his back. He will be used only for bullpen stints, because there simply wasn't enough time for him to get stretched out.
"I actually saw my name on the bottom of the lineup card for the first time in three-and-a-half months," said Buchholz. "I still haven't really talked to anybody about what my role is. Obviously, I'm not going to be starting. I'll probably be sent out to the bullpen, and if a situation arises where I can get in the game, we'll go from there."
In an ideal circumstance, the Red Sox would blow the Orioles out on Wednesday and they could give Buchholz a low-leverage situation to see how prepared he might be to help the team out of the bullpen in the postseason.
But things haven't been ideal in September, as the Red Sox's lead in the American League Wild Card standings has vanished and they entered Wednesday in a tie with the Rays.
Buchholz pitched an inning in the Instructional League on Monday.
"We were going to send him [back] down to the Instructional League, and I think we kind of got together and thought, 'Well, the way things have gone, we've proven we can play 14-, 15-inning games,'" said manager Terry Francona. "If we're fortunate enough to have a blowout, we'd love to pitch him. If we ever got into a situation where he could be kind of the wild card, knowing that there's a lot there that's not proven right now, we figured, [we might as well] just keep him here and activate him."
One will never know how differently Boston's season might have gone if Buchholz had stayed healthy and kept his spot in the rotation. The starting rotation has struggled mightily for the Sox in September.
"I don't know if me being out there would have helped anything going on," Buchholz said. "I definitely would have loved being out there, but this unfortunate situation happened. Yeah, it's been tough watching the guys go out, everyone having a common goal in mind to win the ballgame and the ball not rolling our way, but you have to do everything right in a game to win a big league ballgame.
"We're doing one or two things right and one or two things not right at the same time. It's tough to win that way. I'd love to be out there, but it's an unfortunate situation."
At least Buchholz will have a chance to be out there now, even if in a smaller role.