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Starter Clay Buchholz makes Triple-A debut as D-backs mull rotation options

Boston Red Sox's Clay Buchholz pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Boston, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

A decision has yet to be made regarding who fills in for injured Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Robbie Ray, but one future option is Clay Buchholz, the former Boston Red Sox starter who inked a minor-league deal with the D-backs on Friday.

Buchholz made his debut in Arizona’s farm system Tuesday night.

He went 6.0 innings but allowed six hits and four earned runs with a walk and six strikeouts. Buchholz threw 92 pitches, 61 of which were strikes.

The 33-year-old joined Triple-A Reno having allowed two earned runs over 16.0 innings for the Kansas City Royals’ minor league teams before his Reno debut.

Even if the D-backs feel he is ready for a major league assignment, he wouldn’t be available until Sunday if the MLB squad assures him five days rest.

So the Diamondbacks continue to mull their options over who starts and when over the next four days. It’s possible they have until Saturday to make a final call on who earns a promotion.

The team initially purchased Triple-A Reno starter Kris Medlen to replace Ray, but Medlen got lit up for seven runs and nine hits through four innings last Friday.

Then, the plans to recall Braden Shipley from Reno on Saturday led to a setback when he was put on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. The D-backs retroactively placed Shipley on the disabled list Saturday.

Now, the D-backs’ rotation options remain fluid.

Arizona’s day off on Monday allowed the team to shift around its remaining starting pitchers. Patrick Corbin will start against the Dodgers on Wednesday night coming off six days rest, and the next two pitchers in the rotation could slide up a day to fill the hole left by Ray’s injury that would have lined Ray up for a Thursday start.

Zack Greinke and Matt Koch could make starts on Thursday and Friday before the D-backs need a starter for a Saturday game against the Washington Nationals.

It would appear that Tuesday’s 12-inning marathon against Los Angeles — which burned through the bullpen — and the upcoming use of the relievers might dictate whether the Diamondbacks could piggyback long relievers like T.J. McFarland to get through Saturday’s game.

Triple-A starter Taylor Clarke is another option for Arizona, though he has struggled in seven starts with Reno. The 24-year-old right-hander has gone 2-5 with a 5.91 ERA this season.

Ray injured his right oblique — it was diagnosed as a Grade 2 strain — 1.1 innings into a start on April 29, and while the team hasn’t put a timeline on an expected return it’s possible he misses at least a month while on the disabled list.

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