TORONTO — Clay Buchholz threw 50 pitches over three simulated innings in the bullpen this afternoon at the Rogers Centre. The All-Star righthander came away pleased with how he felt.
"Best day so far," said Buchholz, who has been on the disabled list since June 9 with a shoulder injury. "It's the best I've felt as far as intensity and everything. It felt like a pretty standard bullpen for me ... The last 30 pitches I didn't feel anything. That's the best thing I could take out of it."
Buchholz, who doesn't throw at game speed in the bullpen, estimated he was at 80-85 percent effort for the final 10-15 pitches.
"No increase in stiffness of any kind," said manager John Farrell. "He got loose as he began the next simulated inning. Overall a good day."
The next step for Buchholz will come Saturday when he throws three more simulated innings and perhaps goes beyond 50 pitches. From there he would pitch a simulated game and face teammates.
Because he hasn't pitched in so long, Buchholz would want some kind of simulated game before starting a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
"I'd rather have some guys stand in," he said. "It's been a while. Instead of just going out and throwing in a minor league. It would be better for me to see a hitter and throw more pitches before we jump to [a game]."
The minor league regular season ends Sept. 2, so Buchholz should have ample time to pitch in a minor league rehab game before he is activated.
"The most important thing is he feels good and it's another positive step," Farrell said.
• David Ross caught seven innings for Triple A Pawtucket today. He was 0 for 2 with a walk. Ross will be off Thursday, then catch back-to-back full games Friday and Saturday. From there he would be activated Monday in San Francisco.
Ross is on the disabled list recovering from a concussion.
• Felix Doubront, John Lackey, and Ryan Dempster will start against the Yankees this weekend.
• Slumping first baseman Mike Napoli was dropped to seventh in the lineup. Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew are behind David Ortiz in the order
"Just in talking to Mike today, we're looking for the right combinations through that middle third of the order," Farrell said. "Stephen has been swinging the bat with a lot of confidence of late."
Farrell also mentioned that he plans to rotate Mike Carp and Daniel Nava into the lineup at first base more often.
Farrell was careful to say it won't be a strict platoon, but clearly the idea is to use Carp and Nava more at Napoli's expense.
"Feel like we can manage his time as best possible to keep him fresh," Farrell said.
It sounds like Gomes will start to get more at-bats against righthanders.
"The competitiveness to all his at-bats, whether it's righthanded or lefthanded, I don't see a whole lot of difference between the two," said Farrell. "He brings another element of energy to our team. With him in the lineup we project a different feel on the field and we want that in there."