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08/14/08 7:50 PM ET

Despite slump, Buchholz trusted by Sox

Struggling right-hander a big part of Boston's future, present

BOSTON -- It's no secret. Clay Buchholz is currently in the midst of a slump the likes of which his young career has never seen. A 7-3 win on May 2 against Tampa Bay was the last time Buchholz tasted victory, a span of eight starts, six losses, one disabled list stint and a trip to Triple-A Pawtucket.

But even with the acquisition of Paul Byrd from Cleveland on Tuesday bumping Buchholz from his scheduled Friday start, the 23-year-old hasn't lost the faith of his manager or the organization.

"I think watching him, the things he said, he knows how much we want to win," manager Terry Francona said. "I think he even said to me, 'I don't want to be the weak link.' I appreciate that. I understand that."

Francona moved Buchholz into Sunday's slot in the starting rotation, which was vacated by Tim Wakefield's trip to the disabled list and Charlie Zink's -- Wakefield's initial replacement -- one-time start on Tuesday before being optioned back to Pawtucket. At 2-8, Buchholz is slated to face the Jays in an attempt to get that elusive third win.

"We're trying to win as many games as we can and help a young kid through a tough time," Francona said. "I think we all thought this was the right thing to do."

Francona admitted that Buchholz is conscientious about being unable to produce victories for his team as they're squarely placed in the middle of a pennant race, but there's no doubt the club is invested in the young right-hander. General manager Theo Epstein said earlier in the week that Buchholz is "a big part of our future and may well be a big part of our present."

"He's going through a time in his career that not many people don't do," Francona said. "Most of them do it in the Minor League level. He's never had anything like this happen. Sometimes you need to take a step back in order to take a step forward. I think he's OK, I really do."

Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.