"This is the hardest I've tried to throw throughout all this, so it's definitely a good thing for me."
Buchholz, who threw 38 pitches in a rehab start Sunday for Class Lowell, is scheduled to make his third on Wednesday with Pawtucket in Game 1 of the Governors' Cup semifinal series.
Buchholz experienced tightness in his neck, which was diagnosed as a neck strain, during a June 8 game against the Angels at Fenway Park.
Eleven days later, he was placed on the disabled list and was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on Aug. 19 with a right bursa sac strain.
Prior to getting injured, he was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 12 starts.
Buchholz, who was scheduled to throw between 50 and 55 pitches, departed after having uncorked 53 (34 for strikes) with one out and one on (a Chris Wahl double) in the fourth.
Buchholz worked 3 1/3 innings, allowed seven hits, one run, no walks and notched two strikeouts.
As much as anything, being able to experience a normal work day was a plus for Buchholz -- one reason being before he had to fly from Los Angeles to the East Coast.
"That was a long day the other day, getting to the field and forgetting what New York-Penn League clubhouses are like and getting there too early for a comfort level," he said. "But today was good. I was able to get up and eat and get to the park at a normal time."
That might have been one reason why Buchholz topped out at 94 mph on McCoy Stadium's radar gun.
"Tonight, I was much more impressed with the velocity that I was able to sustain over the period I was out there and getting over that hump of not having to worry about anything when I'm trying to get a fastball down and away to a righty with something on it," Buchholz said. "I was able to throw all of my pitches with the same effort level and the same arm angle.
"Basically, that's the final hump I had to get over as far as not having a second thought in the back of my head. Now it's just getting that release point down on each of my pitches."
Buchholz admitted he needs to become more accustomed to pitching out of the stretch.
"Out of the stretch for the most part is my only uncomfortable spot right now," he said. "I don't feel really balanced in the stretch, and that's something I have to work on.
"I have to get a comfort level from doing that since I have to do it so much right now."
Buchholz survived a rough first inning thanks to a double play.
Eury Perez hit a leadoff single, stole second, advanced to third on catcher Ryan Lavarnway's throwing error and scored on Jeff Kobernus' infield hit.
After Danny Espinosa lined a single to right, Buchholz induced Chris Marrero to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and Will Rhymes to pop out to short.
Buchholz's second inning was more efficient, thanks in part to retiring Zach Walters (fly ball to right) and Chris Wahl (pop to short) on four pitches.
Jimmy Van Ostrand then lined a single to left before Buchholz got Jeff Howell to wave at a third strike.
Perez again bedeviled Buchholz in the third by lining a single to left. After Kobernus flied out to right, Espinosa ripped a single to right that Bryce Brentz bobbled for an error, which put Chiefs on second and third.
Buchholz extricated himself from the jam by retiring Marrero on a liner to second and getting Rhymes to look at a third strike.
"For the most part, when I threw pitches and missed, I missed off the plate instead of down the middle, except for that last pitch I threw [to Wahl]," Buchholz said. "It was supposed to be a front-row cutter, and I pulled it middle and the guy got some good wood on it."