'Best day yet' for Buchholz

'Best day yet' for Buchholz
August 14, 2013, 6:45 pm
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TORONTO -- Since he last pitched in a major-league game, Clay Buchholz has experienced good days and bad, steps forward and setbacks. Better than two months later, Buchholz still isn't ready to pitch again, so every bit of progress must be measured with some skepticism.

That said, Buchholz, pitching coach Juan Nieves and manager John Farrell were all decidedly upbeat about Wednesday's bullpen session.
      
"Best day yet,'' said Buchholz. "I threw 50 pitches, up and down three times. Like I said, it's probably the best I've felt. As far as intensity and everything, it felt like a pretty standard bullpen for me. The last 30 pitches or so, I didn't feel anything, so that's the best I can probably take out of it. It felt good.''
      
While noting that he customarily doesn't cut loose in bullpen even when fully healthy, Buchholz said "if I had to put a number on it, the last 10-15 pitches were probably 80-85 percent.''
      
Buchholz mixed in secondary pitches along with his fastball.
      
"Physically, he felt strong,'' said Farrell. "The most encouraging thing is that there were three times he got up and down and there was no increase in stiffness of any kind. He got loose as he began the next inning, so to speak. So overall, a good day.''
      
The next step is expected to be another bullpen Saturday at Fenway Park "like I did today. This was the most intense I've done anything. I'll have to see if there's any lingering soreness or anything. I don't anticipate that.
      
"I'll probably do the same thing I did today -- the up and downs.''
      
After that, Buchholz anticipated facing "some hitters'' in either a simulated game, or with hitters standing in at the plate in another bullpen.
      
When asked if he had circled Sept. 1 for a return to the rotation, Buchholz said: "I've already tried [projecting] and it didn't work out too well, so I'm just going to let it happen when it happens.''
     
"We can put together any template we want,'' said Farrell. "It's going to be based on how he recovers. We feel like the foundation has been solidly built to advance and Saturday will be another one of those building blocks.
     
"The most important thing is he feels good and it's another positive step.''
     
That said, the Red Sox have to have an eye on the calendar when it comes to getting Buchholz opportunities to pitch in minor league games. Most minor leagues see their regular seasons end around Labor Day, less than three weeks away.