Clay Buchholz Has Successful Bullpen Session, Says He Feels ‘About 80 Percent’

Clay Buchholz Has Successful Bullpen Session, Says He Feels 'About 80 Percent' Hours before Jon Lester was scheduled to make his return to the mound for the Red Sox, Clay Buchholz took a big step toward making one of his own.

Buchholz threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session Monday at Fenway Park and came out of it feeling fine. He experienced some soreness in his lower back after leaving the mound, but it went away with some stretching and it was not on par with the pain he has felt after prior throwing sessions.

The effort left Buchholz's manager feeling pretty good about things.

"It was night and day from his last side session, so that was good news," Terry Francona said. "Ball comes out his hands great. If you watched him throw, you would never believe that he's missed time. Just exploding out of his hand."

Buchholz said he feels about 80 percent right now, but with a full side session scheduled for Wednesday and a rehab stint on the horizon, he is confident he can get back to the major league mound soon enough. The righty said it will take him "a couple of starts" in the minors before he can return, which could allow him to return to the Red Sox the second week of August, if all goes well.

The back pain is something Buchholz has experienced since last year, when he was 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA. He simply has to get to a point where the pain is manageable, as it was in the latter half of 2010.

"I've pitched with pain before," he said Monday. "It's just a muscle that got pulled. If I can get it better and pitch like I did the last part of last season, that's what I'm going to do."

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