ST. PETERSBURG -- As much as Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz would love to graduate to a full-blown throwing program in which he could set a target date for his return to the rotation, that is not possible at this time.
Buchholz is still waiting for the symptoms in his back to subside enough to the point where he can throw off the mound. In the meantime, he is limited to playing catch.
"I don't think there's really a timeline," Buchholz said. "It's basically just from the doctors that I've seen, it's basically just going to be a feel thing. When it feels alright to take the mound, that's when I'll do it. It's something that I don't think I can really rush into or try to do more than I can on that particular day, just for the fact that it's a muscle in my back. Until it feels better, I don't think I'll be able to really get off the mound."
Buchholz last pitched for the Red Sox on June 16 at Tropicana Field.
"It's been tough on me just for the fact that I thought it was going to be a 15-day stint and be over and done with, and it hasn't been that," said Buchholz. "It [stinks]. Obviously I want to be pitching, I want to help the team in any way I can. Me going out there not 100 percent, or not 80 percent, I don't think is going to help the team. I think if I rush back into it, it will be something that will be here for the rest of the season and I don't want that. I'd rather be ready to pitch at 100 percent and I feel like that's the way that I can help this team win."
The official diagnosis is a lower back strain. Buchholz went to a specialist 10 days ago, he confirmed the club's diagnosis -- that rest and rehab should eventually heal the injury.
"I think we're doing everything we can to get to that point," Buchholz said. "I know it's not anything with structural damage as far as my spine or anything. That's a good thing. It's a muscle that's always working. There's never really any rest. Obviously walking around, you're working your back."
The positive news is that Buchholz did feel a little better when he played catch at Tropicana Field on Thursday and Friday.
"Went out there, just basically wanted to play catch at 50 percent and I actually went a little bit harder than that, because I didn't feel anything like I thought I was going to," Buchholz said. "Throwing has never really been the issue. It's been pitching when throwing off the mound. I don't think I'm at that point yet, but yesterday was a step in the right direction, for sure."
He recently had a cortisone shot as well.
"Yeah, it's helped," Buchholz said. "But at the same time, I can still feel something back there. My whole outlook on it was to let it be 100 percent before I came back and it's just taking a little bit longer than I wanted it to."