Less than a week in camp, the Red Sox, beginning with pitching coach John Farrell, like what they see in terms of arm strength from the 34-year-old right-hander, and Friday laid out a plan for him.
"March 15 is kind of a template that we work by," Farrell said in pointing toward Boston's game against Cincinnati in Fort Myers. "There's a progression leading up to that. Tuesday will be his first bullpen day. Those will always provide us opportunities to evaluate his arm strength, how he recovers, and he'll go through a similar every other day bullpen routine as every other pitcher went through at the start of camp here."
Farrell likely wouldn't have felt comfortable outlining the plan unless Colon had the strong outing he had in playing catch in the outfield at City of Palms Park, stretching out to 120 feet.
"He finished up with 12 pitches off flat ground, just some aggressive catch," Farrell said. "From 120 feet, he carries it down the line very easily. The ball has good carry, good rotation. His arm works very clean."
Colon's next step will be a bullpen side session off the mound on Tuesday. If that goes well, he will throw batting practice and then the game against the Reds.
"It's not earth-shattering," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "The timetable is how he feels physically. That's what we're shooting for. I think if you get into those artificial Opening Day [projections], I think you make mistakes. You try to keep the big picture in mind. He's showing good arm strength. I'm glad he's excited. He's shooting for the ninth. If that works, good. If not, in our opinion, a week is not the end of the world."
Farrell said once Colon finishes his throwing program from 60, 90 and 120 feet, Colon will move onto a bullpen session of approximately 35 pitches. The 35 pitches normally translate to an eight-minute bullpen session.
"He projects right now to meet that easily," Farrell said.
Asked what will be the most important sign that the right-hander is ready to resume game action, Farrell sounded an encouraging tone.
"The steps and the intensity levels that we have in place right now and how he successfully gets through those will lead us to BP and then ultimately games," Farrell said. "But the early read is that there's no reason to think he won't get to that point at all. He's throwing the ball very good. He's throwing the ball hard at 120 feet and finished up at 70 feet with some balls he threw through me. Again, I don't think arm strength and velocity have ever been an issue with Bartolo."
Beckett "B" the man: Josh Beckett can thank the wonders of scheduling "B" games in Spring Training for saving him a trip across the state to Jupiter for Monday's game against the Florida Marlins. Beckett will start the "B" game against the Minnesota Twins on Monday morning at City of Palms Park. The only inconvenience to Beckett is an early wake-up call, as the game is set to begin at 10 a.m. ET.
"Coach Farrell will stay with him and [I] will go on the trip," said Francona. "One of us has to stay and one of us has to go.
"We felt like we had between seven to nine innings of pitching we wanted to account for. Actually, the Twins approached us. We had the pitching, so due to abbreviated Spring Training, it gives us nine more innings to see pitching. We actually don't have enough position players, so we're going to have to scuffle [to find it]."
Take 30: When asked about rosters for the two games in Japan to start the season, Francona said Friday that the team will be allowed to take 30 players who will have their expenses covered by Major League Baseball. Additionally, the active roster will be 25 for each game, as is normally the case, but the team can carry a type of "taxi squad" for each game, similar to the NFL. Francona said the team is likely to carry an extra catcher in the event either Jason Varitek or Doug Mirabelli gets injured in a game and can't play.
Lowell honored: The Red Sox will honor Mike Lowell for his extensive charitable work focused on families battling cancer as well as his support for inner city youth baseball programs. Lowell runs his own foundation, the Mike Lowell Foundation, which benefits Miami and Boston area children and families. The foundation was founded by Lowell and his wife, Bertica, in 2001 when he was with the Florida Marlins.
Lowell will be the guest of honor at a special dinner in Fort Myers on Saturday night, attended by Red Sox principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president/CEO Larry Lucchino. The Cuban-themed evening will highlight Lowell's heritage and will include a special "Dancing with the Stars" segment in which Lowell and his teammates will partner with professional dancers.
Up next: Jon Lester makes his first start of the spring and Jonathan Papelbon will pitch for the first time in relief as the Red Sox play their second straight contest at Hammond Stadium against the Twins. Game time is 1:05 p.m. ET.
Mike Petraglia is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.