After throwing from 75-80 feet on flat ground Wednesday, Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz said he his intensity level was high and hoped to throw off the mound within the next couple days.
He threw for the second time since being shutdown last Thursday, increasing the distance from the 60 feet he tossed from on Tuesday. The goal remains to throw from 120 feet before moving to the mound.
“Took a couple days off, then easy toss yesterday and then today more intense -- probably the most intense I've been regardless of being flat-ground or on the mound,” said Buchholz, who was placed on the disabled list June 18 (retroactive to June 9) with a neck strain. “So given that, it feels fine. I'm getting off that uphill slope and moving down hill.”
“It's going to be still day-to-day. See how I feel tomorrow, treat it and probably throw again, I would say. Once I get out to 120 feet and letting it go from that distance then I can move and get off the mound. So it could be tomorrow or it could be a couple days.”
Buchholz hasn’t pitched since June eight after when he sustained the injury fielding a comebacker.
The concern was that he could feel lingering pain in his followthrough when he pitched off the mound with any intensity.
“Throwing on flat ground, I think, if I'm throwing with the same intensity on flat ground and on the mound, then I have to do a little bit more flat-ground stuff to feel where I was feeling off the mound,” Buchholz said. “That's sort of what I went at today, to go with a little more intensity, and there was never a thought in my head like 'OK, I can't go that far.' That's what I was feeling before. That's a good step for me in the right direction to clear my mind and move on with this process.”
While initially Buchholz had previously gone on feel to gauge how much he could throw, Red Sox manager John Farrell has taken a more structured approach to judge signs of progress.
“Today was another step, another good work day for him,” Farrell said. “He was out to 75 to 80 feet with pretty good intensity for that session. But the fact is there's no restrictions. There's no feelings of any kind of discomfort all the way through the arm stroke and that's first and foremost.
“We still have to get out to 120 feet before we do get him out to the mound, but just talking with Clay, there's -- I don't want to say a little bit of relief in there -- but there's certainly a better outlook than maybe seven, 10 days ago."
Farrell initially said he expected Buchholz would possibly have to make two rehab starts once he’s fully-healthy. Buchholz said he might only need one.
“If I felt like I was fine to throw in one rehab start, I don't think I would need two unless I didn't have a feel for my pitches or anything,” Buchholz. “I don't think that's a problem right now.”
With Buchholz still in the early stages of returning to the mound, Farrell said its something he and Buchholz hadn’t discussed.
“That's something that once we get to the mound in his bullpen sessions and when he's eligible or capable and from a physical standpoint safe to go out and make that start, then I think we have to look at the calendar and really start to backtrack how many days,” Farrell said. “We're a month away from his last start. So without sitting and talking to Clay a little more candidly or specifically on what he's experienced, we'll map that plan out a little more clear in due time.”