The way Red Sox manager Terry Francona sees it, Clay Buchholz is two or three inches away from being a dominant major league pitcher.

The way Red Sox manager Terry Francona sees it, Clay Buchholz is two or three inches away from being a dominant major league pitcher.


“His arm slot was pretty consistent (last year), but it was just a little high,” said Francona. “When his fastball was over the plate, it got hit a little harder than it should. He has pretty good velocity and awesome off-speed stuff.


“We just want to get him away from his ear a couple of inches. He does that in the bullpen great, but when the game starts, he wants to creep back up. There needs to be some repetition.”


Buchholz, who threw a no-hitter in his second major league start last season and was in the starting rotation at the beginning of this season, has thrown three games with Triple-A Pawtucket, going 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA. In 16 innings, he’s given up 14 hits and 10 walks while striking out 14.


On Monday, he took the loss against Buffalo, lasting just three innings and giving up two runs on six hits and two walks. He struck out three. He needed 73 pitches to get through the three innings, including 37 in one inning, throwing 49 strikes.


But the results aren’t important. The Sox know they have a valuable commodity in the 23-year-old righthander, and commanding the fastball will make him more valuable.


“We don’t want him to run to that secondary stuff because he has that,” said Francona. “To be a complete pitcher, which this kid can be, we want him to not concern himself about the numbers.”


Ellsbury back in:


Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who hurt his wrist making a diving catch last Thursday, made his first start in the outfield since that game on Tuesday.


“It’s still sore,” said Ellsbury, “but it feels a lot better.” Ellsbury had been in one game since then, serving as a pinch-runner for Manny Ramirez last Saturday.


“I wouldn’t say I’m hurt,” he said. “There’s a big difference between hurting and a little soreness. It will be sore for a little while. You never feel 100 percent for the whole season.”


Injured pitchers update:


Daisuke Matsuzaka, on the disabled list since May 30 with a mild rotator cuff strain, will throw a side session today and another one in a couple of days. After that, the team will discuss the next step, possibly a rehab assignment.


Curt Schilling, who started the season on the disabled list with a bum shoulder, threw 40 pitches off a mound today and will pitch off a mound again on Friday.


“The next step (after that) is for him to face hitters,” Francona said.


Pitchers take their swings:


With stops in Cincinnati and Philadelphia coming up on the next road trip, Red Sox pitchers have been taking batting practice. The Sox lose the designated hitter in National League cities.


“That worries me a lot,” said Francona. “They love to hit and they want to show they’re athletes and then they pull one of those intercoastal muscles (the prevailing opinion is that he meant oblique muscles). That’s no good.


“What we really don’t want them to do is make real quick outs. That doesn’t help. We just try to remind them that the more pitches they see, sometimes that helps us as much as them getting a hit. But when they have a chance to drive in a run, we’ll let them hit.”


Odds and ends:


Josh Beckett allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings. He’s thrown at least six innings in each of his last five starts. ... Beckett struck out three, the first time he hasn’t struck out at least five since Aug. 24, 2007, a span of 17 starts. ... Manny Ramirez hit his 505th career home run, passing Eddie Murray for 23rd on the all-time list. Next up is Mel Ott with 511 home runs. ... Ramirez has drive in 14 runs in his last nine games, and his 1,652 RBI tie him with Tony Perez for 24th all-time. ... J.D. Drew has homered in his last three games. ... Dustin Pedroia broke an 0-for-18 drought with a first-inning double. The Red Sox honored Manny Ramirez for joining the 500-home run club before Tuesday’s game. ... A reminder, Thursday’s game was moved from 7:05 p.m. to 6:05.