TORONTO -- Clay Buchholz had what the Red Sox right-hander described as his "best day so far" in his recovery from neck and shoulder stiffness that has kept him on the DL for more than two months. Buchholz tested his entire arsenal of pitching during a bullpen session on Wednesday and emerged in good shape both physically and mentally.
"I threw close to 50 pitches, was up and down three times," Buchholz said. "It felt like a pretty standard bullpen for me. I don't really throw max effort in any of my bullpens. ... If I had to put a number on it, I'd say the last 15 pitches were probably 80-85 percent."
The next step for Buchholz will be another bullpen session for Saturday, though Red Sox manager John Farrell noted that the pitcher will still be busy before then as the Sox strive to get their ace righty back on the mound.
"It's an every-third-day schedule right now," Farrell said. "He'll play light catch tomorrow and the day before his pen session, there's always been a throwing program as well. ... We've gone, in those in-between days, a little bit on feel and how he feels on a given day."
Given that Buchholz has already been gone for much longer than expected, both the team and the player aren't going to rush things by putting any sort of deadline on when they expect Buchholz to return.
"I've already tried that and it didn't work out too well, so I'm just going to let it happen when it happens," Buchholz said.
The forthcoming end of the minor league season in early September could play a factor, as Buchholz would ideally throw some kind of minor league rehab start after so much time away. Farrell said that despite this issue, the Sox aren't going to get Buchholz properly pitching until he's ready.
"The one thing we've got to be careful of is pinning ourselves to a clock. We still have to go by how he responds," Farrell said. "We'd hope there's time for him to get starts in before the minor league season is complete ... that should be some ample time for him to get out and face hitters in a game setting.
"Hopefully he's facing some hitters in controlled settings soon. The most important thing is that he feels good and it's another positive step."
* David Ross will play seven innings at catcher for Triple-A Pawtucket tonight, Farrell said, as the catcher continues his recovery from concussion symptoms. The plan is for Ross to take Thursday off, and then he'll play the full nine innings on both Friday and Saturday.
This schedule would mean that Ross wouldn't come off the 60-day disabled list on Saturday, the first day he is eligible to be activated. Farrell said it is more likely that Ross rejoins the team on Monday for the beginning of the Red Sox' six-game West Coast road trip through San Francisco and Los Angeles.