BOSTON -- Though right-hander Clay Buchholz was pleased to have Dr. James Andrews confirm that there is no structural damage to his shoulder, he also learned that he needs to be careful during the rest of his rehab.
The injury Buchholz has -- a strained bursa sac -- can worsen if he rushes it.
Andrews laid out a best-case scenario for Buchholz in which he might make four or five more starts for the Red Sox before the postseason.
"I'm definitely glad I went and saw him," said Buchholz. "There were five doctors in the room. I did probably three different strength tests for probably three different doctors. ... He said, 'You can get four or five starts for the rest of the season, and hopefully, if we're lucky enough, go to the playoffs and pitch in the playoffs, or you can do it wrong and not pitch at all.'"
Manager John Farrell isn't sure if Buchholz will return before the timetable that Andrews presented.
"I think that's just another way of saying we don't have an exact date," said Farrell. "We have to keep Clay's health first and foremost, which has been the case all throughout this. That won't change. Whatever time is needed, Clay is going to return to us when he's ready."
Though Buchholz might not be able to return quite as quickly as he hoped, he did hear some positive things from Andrews, particularly in regard to his long-term health.
"The strength in my shoulder is as good as it's ever been, really," said Buchholz. "It's definitely a bursa sac strain. That can come from multiple different areas. My rotator cuff MRI looks good, labrum looks good. He actually said being 28 and throwing as many pitches as I have over my lifetime, my shoulder actually looks a lot better than they would expect it to look.
"So that's definitely a good thing, and good news to hear. That takes some weight off my shoulders."
Andrews also gave Buchholz a reference point for when he can go full bore.
"When I get comfortable," said Buchholz. "His one thing was, when I'm at 90 feet and I can crow hop and let the ball go as hard as I want and be OK with it, that's when the light comes on and says, 'OK, you can start throwing off a mound easy and get back into flat ground, sim game, rehab.'"
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.