NEW YORK -- Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz, the team's ace during the early part of the season, fired 3 2/3 innings in his final rehab appearance for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday night.
Pitching in a playoff game at Rochester, Buchholz gave up four hits and two runs, walking two and striking out five. He threw 71 pitches, 52 of them for strikes.
Buchholz, who went 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 12 starts before being sidelined with a right bursa sac strain, is expected to rejoin Boston's rotation next week during a three-game road series against the Rays.
Manager John Farrell confirmed that someone will have to come out of the rotation to make way for Buchholz, but he wasn't ready to make an announcement before Thursday's game against the Yankees.
"We've not met internally to say who that's going to be removed from the rotation nor have we met with the individual it would affect," Farrell said. "We've waited just to get through tonight and to assess where [Buchholz] is at physically and from a fundamental standpoint, and we'll go from there."
Ryan Dempster, who defeated the Tigers on Wednesday night, would seem to be the likeliest candidate to come out of the rotation.
Salty expected to return against Yankees
NEW YORK -- The Red Sox were missing an important bat Thursday for the third straight game, as catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia remained idled with an ailing back for Thursday's opener of a four-game showdown with the Yankees.
The good news, manager John Farrell said, is that Saltalamacchia was expected to resurface at some point over the weekend.
"Well we expect him to be in the lineup sometime in this series," Farrell said. "He's getting better with daily treatment. He still has some other functional activity and testing to go through but he went out and threw today. So some of the rotational stuff is not as hindering as it was just a couple of days ago. We do expect him back on the field this weekend."
Instead of giving the start to backup David Ross, Farrell instead went with No. 3 catcher Ryan Lavarnway.
Ross had played the last two days.
"Yeah, there was a combination of things and as well as [Ivan] Nova's pitched over the last couple of months, particularly the use of his breaking ball, we just felt maybe a better matchup offensively as well with Ryan, and that's where we are today," Farrell said.
It was Lavarnway's first start for the Red Sox since Aug. 15.
Dempster goes from focal point to spectator
NEW YORK -- When the Red Sox and Yankees last met, on Aug. 18, Ryan Dempster was right in the middle of the action. After three inside pitches on Alex Rodriguez, the righty hit the slugger to finish the at-bat. He was later suspended for five games.
Dempster pitched Wednesday night at Fenway, so he will not pitch in this four-game series at Yankee Stadium. If Dempster had pitched in the Bronx, it would have most likely been a hostile environment.
"I like to pitch whenever my day is to pitch, so it just worked out that way," Dempster said. "I was glad to go out and get a win out there yesterday. I'll be leading the cheering on in our dugout for a few days."
The Yankees did not retaliate in that Sunday night game against the Red Sox. Instead, they let their bats do the talking in a comeback victory that some credit as the key to New York's recent resurgence.
"Our team is just worried about playing the best baseball we can," Dempster said. "We just played a really good homestand. We beat a really good team two out of three games. We're just worried about going out and winning today's game."
Dempster was asked if he had received much reaction from opposing players since the plunking of A-Rod.
"No reaction," Dempster said. "I've just been going about my work and getting ready for my next start after my next start and just trying to be as prepared as I can and just pitch better. That's been my main goal. I think this time of year everybody is focused on their team and trying to go out there and be ready and push hard through September. That's what we're trying to do here."
With rotation full, Webster could work in relief
NEW YORK -- Hard-throwing prospect Allen Webster, who was inconsistent as a starter for the Red Sox earlier this season, might get a chance out of the bullpen down the stretch.
Rated the organization's No. 3 prospect by MLB.com, Webster will get some work in relief during Triple-A Pawtucket's playoff series against Rochester.
"Could very well be," manager John Farrell said of the chance of Webster getting some work in Boston's bullpen. "If he comes to us, we look at the rotation being full. So just with the number of available starts we have and the potential of another power arm that we'll take a look in the bullpen and see where it goes the remainder of this month."
With Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey out for the season with injuries, the Red Sox have scrambled a little for righty setup help in front of closer Koji Uehara.
One thing that has clearly helped is the emergence of Brandon Workman.
"Obviously he can give multiple innings, but in a leverage situation we've come to trust his composure and his mound presence to be able to execute in those situations," Farrell said.
Workman came up as a starting pitcher and could get back to that role next year.
"We fully believe he can be a starting pitcher," general manager Ben Cherington said. "Obviously the need right now is in the 'pen. We'll reassess that in the offseason and going into Spring Training. We know he's capable of being a starting pitcher."
Workman's flexibility only makes him a more valuable asset.
"I think he's proven he can do both, and that's great," Cherington said. "We'll see what happens down the road. We haven't talked to him."