BOSTON — Clay Buchholz hopes to pitch again this season, and Boston’s team doctor said there is a chance the right-hander could return.

Buchholz visited Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles on Monday and he confirmed the diagnosis of a stress fracture in Buchholz’s lower back. Watkins also left open the possibility of coming back this season, providing some peace of mind for Buchholz.

“All along they knew something was there,” Buchholz said before the Red Sox hosted the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night. “Yeah, it’s good to go to a guy and have him be so forward with it and say that it’s not a career-threatening thing and it’s not even a season-ending thing for me.

“At least I know there’s something there and I’m not just a big wuss.”

Red Sox Medical Director Tom Gill said Buchholz, whose latest problem arose the day after he threw in the bullpen July 25, has a stress fracture, which was suffered on top of a previous stress reaction in a different area, in his spine. He said the new injury is stable and Buchholz has responded to treatment.

Gill said it’s possible Buchholz could return to the rotation this season, but he won’t be cleared to even throw again until he completes a structured rehabilitation program.

“The question is, how much time does Clay then need to get major league ready?” Gill said. “You have to remember (Triple-A) Pawtucket, their season will be over before the postseason, so that’s going to be kind of an internal baseball decision and working with Clay and how much time he needs to get back.

“Once he’s medically cleared, he’s going to have to get baseball cleared.”

Buchholz, a 17-game winner last season who is 6-3 with a 3.48 ERA in 14 starts this year, was placed on the disabled on June 19 and now begins a five-step program in what he said was a six-week process that would bring him back in September.


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