On the eve of the first World Series start of his career, Boston Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz sounded downright apprehensive about his scheduled appearance in Game 4 on Sunday night. Buchholz, who already was pushed back to Sunday because of concerns about stiffness in his problematic right shoulder, said Saturday he’s “not 100 percent” and sounded as if he would be grateful to complete five innings.

“There’s not a whole lot of discomfort,” Buchholz said before Saturday night’s Game 3 against the St. Louis Cardinals. “The ball is not really coming out of my hand like it does in spring training or at the beginning of the season.”

Buchholz missed three months with a shoulder issue this season, when he went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in just 16 starts. In three postseason starts, he has a 5.40 ERA, and Manager John Farrell sounded Saturday as if he already was preparing for an abbreviated outing.

“We go into tomorrow thinking that he’s going to give us what he’s been in the postseason,” Farrell said. “That might be a little bit shorter of an outing than maybe we’ve seen back in April and May. But he’s also been very effective, and we’re fully anticipating that to be the case tomorrow.”

Buchholz has not pitched since Oct. 19, when he started Game 6 of the American League Championship Series against Detroit and gave up two runs in five innings. He threw from a mound for the first time since then Saturday, doing a little more work than he normally would the day before a start because he had thrown only from flat ground previously.


He also sounded as if he would not push the issue if he became fatigued.

“It’s tough to take yourself out of a game; I’ve never done that,” Buchholz said. “But with this scenario that’s going on right now, I’m going to tell them the truth. It’s not going to be one of those times where you might be feeling tired but still telling everybody you’re good to go.”

Craig could play field

Though the Cardinals appear committed to starting Matt Adams at first base, Manager Mike Matheny said Saturday that Allen Craig — the regular first baseman who missed six weeks with a foot injury — could be used as a defensive substitution late in a game. “He feels good and made a stride forward today,” Matheny said. Previously, Matheny had said he was comfortable using Craig, who served as the designated hitter for the first two games in Boston, only as a pinch hitter. . . .

Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew had just one hit in his previous 18 at-bats entering Game 3, with nine strikeouts and no walks, but Farrell has kept him in the lineup because of his superb defense. “Pitching and defense keeps you in games,” Farrell said. “It gives you an opportunity to win some games late. And the defense he provides is a premium to us.”