BOSTON -- Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz threw 30 pitches in a successful side session before Monday's series opener with the Royals and said his back feels about 80 percent, a healthy improvement from the constant pain he's reported since landing on the 15-day disabled list June 17.
"I think it's going to feel better," Buchholz said. "There was still a little soreness coming off after I threw. [I] sat down for about 10 minutes, did a couple stretches and it felt better. This is, I think, the biggest step in the right direction so far in this process."
"The ball came out of his hand great," said manager Terry Francona. "If you watched him throw, you would never believe he's missed time. It's just exploding out of his hand."
Buchholz threw mostly fastballs while mixing in a few curveballs, changeups and cutters. He'll take the day off on Tuesday and hopes to throw a full bullpen session on Wednesday.
"I don't know how quick they'll want me to jump back into things, but I think a lot we'll be able to take away from the next one off the mound," he said. "I want to do it as quick as possible. I think it's going to take a couple starts getting back into it, facing live hitters, probably go a couple innings at a time, and see how it feels from there."
While he's been throwing with back pain for a majority of this season, Buchholz said he was at about 30 percent during his last bullpen session in Philadelphia at the end of June and is feeling closer to 80 percent this time around. He's been told he has no structural damage and it's just a pulled muscle, so he'll continue to pitch through the pain as doctors don't believe it will risk further injury.
"I want to be ready to go," he said. "If it's in the middle of August, that's good. If it's September, that's good, too. I want to be able to come back and help this team get to the postseason and work our way from there."