By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Even with the news that both Kevin Youkilis (hip) and Erik Bedard (lat strain) had returned to Boston to have injuries further examined, the news wasn't all bad for the Red Sox Friday.
Pitcher Clay Buchholz, sidelined since June with a stress fracture in his lower back, had what manager Terry Francona labeled "a really good day,'' in his comeback effort.
Buchholz threw from a distance of 120 feet, the longest distance from which he's thrown.
"He ended up with 70 throws,'' said Francona. "Very aggressive. The last 10 were on flat ground. He'll back off a little (Saturday) then we'll kind of put a program together for the last couple of weeks (of the season).
"We've got to sit down with Curt (Young, pitching coach) and Mike (Reinold, head trainer) and see what that is. But he really had a good day. It's encouraging when he gets out that far and he still feels better and better.''
Sometime next week, Buchholz should be able to start throwing off a mound in spikes and that will be the toughest test yet for his ailing back.
While the Red Sox are doubtful that Buchholz will have sufficient time to build up his arm strength enough to start again this year, they're holding out hope that he might be available to contribute out of the bullpen.
For a team seeking for a solution to its seventh-inning woes, Buchholz could have a role ready-made for him -- assuming he continues to progress and doesn't experience any setbacks.